Category: General

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.”

 

THE BEGINNING

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.

Amen!

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.”

READ MORE

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.

Would you like to support the retired Josephites? Please click here>>>

What is the value of growing up in an African-American parish?

What is the value of growing up in an African-American parish?

By: Cathy McClain

I am a convert. The sign of the cross – this wonderful, visible recognition of my faith – is what brought me to the church.

Geography is what brought me to my particular parish. I have been to many Catholic churches but always find the need to return to my home parish. I can receive the Eucharist and fulfill my Mass obligation at any of the six parishes I pass every Sunday morning but it is only at my home parish that I feel like an included member of the Body of Christ. I need the worship experience every Sunday to give me the ammunition to get through the week.

I grew up in an economically depressed community that was created in response to political pressure about the way returning veterans of color were being treated by the City of Baltimore. My community of Cherry Hill was the home to the largest concentration of public housing east of Chicago and received very few human services even though the majority of the community lived below the federal poverty income guideline.

The Josephites had the foresight to create a parish, called St. Veronica’s, in this impoverished community of 17,000 African Americans and the church quickly became the anchor of the community. The parish became the change agent for many residents in the community.

Receiving services and assistance when I was growing up meant spending countless hours at a bus stop and traveling for hours to the center of the city and often being sent back multiple times. When there was a demonstrated need for energy assistance, the pastor connected with Baltimore Gas and Electric Company and government services and invited them to set up satellite locations in the community. The pastor even housed them at the church at no cost.

When there were not enough recreational opportunities for young people, the parish again opened its doors to Operation Champ so the community children had a safe place to play and learn crafts.

Other services quickly followed: a food pantry, a thrift store, a drug treatment program, Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, and even a Headstart program. Later there were homeownership workshops and job fairs hosted by the parish … all in an effort to make the community self-sufficient.

The community grew and because of the influence of St. Veronica, a major community anchor, Cherry Hill became self-sustaining. But something else happened. The residents were filled with pride as they were empowered to take control of their own lives. They became fishers of men.

The parish itself grew because of its outreach and the volunteer rate at the parish is still about 45 percent. All of the services are done by volunteers, with the exception of the Headstart program. Though there are still plenty of handouts – food, clothing and so on, the parish is providing education and training to allow community residents and parishioners to help themselves. Services have never been limited to parishioners.

St. Veronica is a family church where I was not related to anyone outside of my immediate small family when I joined. The parish adopted me and groomed me and nourished my gifts to help me become a part of the fabric of the community.

We come for Mass on Sunday morning and stay for the fellowship as we catch up on each other’s lives. We take the time to know one another rather than the hit or miss I have experienced in other churches. That same sense of welcome is extended to whomever comes through the door for Mass.

After 70 years, St. Veronica’s Church is still an anchor in the Cherry Hill community – providing food and clothing to residents regardless of their religious background or income. Worship is spirit filled and fulfilling on so many levels. I don’t lose my sense of self in the worship, rather it is embraced. The parish community wraps you in its embrace and covers you during any storm. As someone who doesn’t have a lot of family, that has been life sustaining for me.

Today when I consider the fiscal decisions that many of our parishes are facing I am concerned that a valuable piece of our history may be lost. Cherry Hill would not be the community it is without the influence of the Josephites and the creation of the parish of St. Veronica.

The Josephites taught those who were too poor to give to instead give of their time and talent. They helped us move from members of the parish to owners of the parish. My guess is that it is still one of the few parishes in the country that is run very efficiently and completely by volunteers assisting the pastor. St. Veronica’s, in a very real way, represents what the Josephites had in mind when they honored their mission to work in the impoverished African-American community to help them realize their worth.

As we move on to the next big thing, it is my sincere hope that we don’t overlook this major contribution to the African-American community and the important work of the Josephites.

While I only wrote about my experience at St. Veronica’s, I am certain that members of other Josephite parishes can say with some certainty that it represents your parish as well. The work of the Josephites, after all, is transferable and we are blessed to have them.

Cathy McClain, a mother and grandmother, is a member of St. Veronica, pastored by Rev. Steven Ositimehin, and volunteers as the parish secretary. She also is a program manager for Catholic Charities in the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

Bishop Reflection: Cardinal Donald Wuerl

‘Because of the Josephites, the faith of the
African-American Catholic community continues to
flourish, grow and meet the challenges of the day’

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of interviews with bishops who lead dioceses where Josephites serve. Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, reflects on his experience with Josephite parishes and African-American Catholics.

(CNS photo/Jaclyn Lippelmann, Catholic Standard)

Who are the Josephites to you?

As the spiritual shepherd of a large archdiocese, I am most grateful for the dedication and service of so many who help this Church in her mission to manifest the kingdom of God in our midst. The Josephite priests and brothers, in their own way in that respect, continue to offer significant service as they live their charism within the archdiocese. The gifts they bring to the Church are undeniable as they are evidenced in the vibrant faith of the African-American Catholics throughout the archdiocese and the nation, and it is a joy for me to call the Josephites brothers and co-workers in the vineyard of the Lord.

The Society of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart (the Josephites) plays an important and invaluable role in the life and mission of the Archdiocese of Washington. For example, we are privileged to be host to the order’s Saint Joseph Seminary, and their Pastoral Center, which brings many good men from around the country and the world here to study, pray and bear witness to the loving care and freeing truth of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Also, multiple parishes in the archdiocese are currently, or have in the past, been entrusted to the care of the Josephites, including the Church of the Incarnation, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Saint Luke’s, and Saint Benedict the Moor churches. Each of these longstanding parishes offers substantial social outreach and each in turn often works together with other churches historically serving the African-American community, such as for events like the annual East of the River Revival.

Thanks to the sacramental, educational and pastoral ministry of the Josephites, that portion of the flock entrusted to them has grown and been strengthened in the Spirit, and they have also helped to build up the kingdom of God in a way that others simply might not be able to. Because of their work, the faith of the African-American Catholic community continues to flourish, grow and meet the challenges of the day. This has included making use of their particular gifts in the service of our common calling to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ and to be a bridge to the greater community, recognizing that we are all sisters and brothers, one human family before God.

In what ways do you interact with the Josephites?

As archbishop, it is my privilege to regularly visit our parishes, including those with Josephite leadership. It was my pleasure just a short while ago to celebrate a major anniversary of one that had been given to the care of the Josephites when it was originally established. Looking back at their history, I noted that the parish was a living tribute to the great faith of the African-American members of the Church who in both good times and bad, when enduring injustice and struggling for justice, always remained strong in the faith and in recognizing our identity as God’s family. The archdiocese also recently held its special liturgy and reception to celebrate Black Catholic History Month at one of these parish communities under the Josephites’ care.

Last April the Josephite Pastoral Center and the Archdiocese of Washington, along with the National Black Catholic Congress and Pax Christi USA, hosted a Black Catholic Convocation for parishioners. What do you see as the benefit to gathering Black Catholics within the archdiocese?

The Convocation offered a fruitful opportunity for area African-American Catholics to gather for fellowship and prayer, and to discuss topics relevant not only to them, but all peoples, and not only within this archdiocese but across several dioceses.

Saint Paul, in referring to the Church Universal as the Body of Christ, reminds us that within this one body, this one family of God, there are many parts, each existing not as separate units, but with their own special gifts in communion and harmony with the whole. These gatherings are unique opportunities that showcase the enriching cultural diversity in worship, community and leadership that exists within the Catholic Church, which together is also like a beautiful symphony. Each time these gatherings take place, the Church expresses its universality and gives testimony to our basic belief that we are all created and loved by our God.

How are religious communities included into the mission of the Archdiocese of Washington?

When we speak of the contributions made by religious communities, we must first give thanks to God and acknowledge that the reason our Catholic education and healthcare systems exist at all is precisely because of our women and men religious. Beyond their legacy of first establishing and operating our schools and hospitals, even with lay people now taking over many of these functions, the spirit of these religious continue to inspire. Our archdiocesan Office of Consecrated Life works to promote and support vocations to the religious life and our Office of Missions works closely with religious communities as well.

Since our nation’s capital is located here, together with institutions of higher learning like The Catholic University of America, nearly 70 communities of women religious and more than 40 men’s communities have a presence in the archdiocese in addition to many societies for apostolic life and institutes of religious life. They have all given their life to daily serve the Lord and others and we depend on their charism quite a bit, from the great importance of their prayers to their diverse ministries of teaching, healing, caring, and evangelizing. As with the Saint Joseph Society of the Sacred Heart, these religious orders have an invaluable function here in working for the renewal of society through their support and participation in the New Evangelization.

In 2016, you celebrated the 50th anniversary of your priestly ordination. In your 50 years of priestly ministry, how have you seen the diversity of the Church change?

Here in the archdiocese, because Washington is such a cosmopolitan city, we are privileged to be able to experience the richness of multi-cultural heritages and perspectives. We celebrate Mass in more than 20 languages and minister to people from all around the globe in our parishes and through our archdiocesan Office of Cultural Diversity and Outreach. When Pope Francis came to visit Washington in 2015 and we had that grand celebration of Mass for the canonization of Saint Junípero Serra on the steps of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, as you looked around at the assembled crowd, what you saw was a slice of the whole world, reflecting the universality of the Church and the whole human family. People of every nationality, ethnicity, race and socio-economic background were there.

This diversity has always been present in the Church Universal from the very start, as we read in the account of the first Pentecost. This diversity of peoples and cultures, which includes the whole human family, has always been there, but a bit disjointed and not always so visible and apparent, and in this respect, we have seen great change in the past 50 years. Back in the 1960s, a person’s experience of the world was often limited to his or her own community; now we have a global awareness and this strengthens our bonds of communion and solidarity.

During my priestly ministry, the world saw the popes – Paul VI, John Paul II, Benedict XVI and now Francis – becoming international apostles, traveling to practically every point on the globe. Developments in the news media, television and then the Internet progressively exposed us to a greater international experience. Now, today, we have a much greater awareness and appreciation for the universality of the Church and for the fact that we are one human family, whether we can trace our family lineage back to Europe, Asia, Africa or our Native American ancestors have been in the Americas for centuries.

As at Pentecost, rather than everyone speaking a different language, we are increasingly speaking and understanding with one voice. This greater realization and experience of cultural, ethnic and racial diversity has been not only a blessing for our Church, but for our nation and for our world. There is still more work to be done though.

St. Joseph Manor welcomes retired Josephites

Living in retirement but still serving in prayer

By Ariana Cassard

Since Josephite priests and brothers devote their lives to the mission of the Josephite Society, where do they go when they retire?

On a hilltop of land in the Mt. Washington neighborhood of Baltimore, St. Joseph’s Manor is home to 17 retired Josephite priests and one brother. Both custodial and ambulatory care is provided for the men, but beyond the physical help they receive, these Josephites find joy in living in community and prayer.


“Josephites are aging, just like any other religious community,” said Father Paul Oberg, SSJ, rector of St. Joseph’s Manor. He considers the Manor to be not a place of surrender at the end of the retired priests’ lives, but as a home in which they can continue their ministry.

Each day at the Manor begins with prayer at 7:30 a.m., followed by Mass and breakfast. After breakfast, some men are taken to doctors appointments, while others spend time reading one of the numerous books in the library.

Once lunch is served, it is followed by free time in the afternoon. At this point, many residents choose to venture out of the building and even off the property. Some spend time indulging in hobbies, such as gardening and painting.

Evenings are spent having dinner as a community and either joining in on special events or logging in more prayer time.

“I try to spend roughly four hours in prayer each day,” said Father Francis Butler, SSJ.

For the retired priests at the Manor, prayer is their main involvement in the furthering of the ministry. They pray for successful ministries, adaptation of the men coming from Nigeria, more vocations and the African-American communities the Josephites serve.

The great benefit of this life is the freedom from responsibility, according to Father Butler. He recalls the days as an active priest and all of its joys, but also the expectation of being available all hours of the day.

The men are given the gift of optional activities, such as “Spiritual Exercise” with Sister Anne Marie, a Daughter of Charity who comes Tuesdays and Thursdays to spend time with the residents. Volunteer Mike Duggan, called the “activity man,” will pick up residents and take them wherever they’d like to go, whether that’s the drugstore or a nearby horse farm.

Visitors and volunteers are vital to the operation of the Manor. Groups from surrounding parishes and organizations devote time to visiting with the men, organizing celebrations, helping with daily tasks.

“Volunteers bring outside joy to the men,” said Father Oberg. “We try to keep them busy as much as we can, but we could use more support.”

Volunteer Jeannie MacDonald has found her time at St. Joseph’s Manor to be mutually beneficial. In 2011, she moved into a house on West Lake Avenue in Baltimore. A neighbor told her about the beautiful Manor down the street and encouraged her to venture onto the property. There she came across a man walking his dogs and struck up a conversation, eventually revealing himself to be the rector. He invited her to come for Holy Hour once a month.

At the time, Ms. MacDonald brought with her many questions. She had married a Catholic man, but it was not something she practiced. She slowly became more involved at the Manor, attending Mass, and then staying for breakfast to talk with the men. It was through their faithfulness that she came to her own faith.

“The first thing that happened was I met these people, and they showed me a side of the Catholic faith I never knew,” said MacDonald. “You can’t be here and go to Mass with these men and not gain faith.”

She was Confirmed in the church at age 63. She now volunteers her time at the Manor four days a week, helping the men with their belongings, communicating with loved ones, taking them offsite to run errands and attend appointments.

“They really are all individuals,” she said, noting her joy in speaking with each resident and hearing about his priestly ministry. Her perception of the church has been completely altered by volunteering her time to these men.

Because no one ages at the same pace, the Manor must be suited for both the retired priests who are still very active and those who are facing tough medical battles. The two registered nurses and one doctor, along with the rest of the staff, ensure that each resident is provided with the best care.

“It’s like a family. When one gets sick, it hurts us all,” said Father Daniel Paul Bastianelli, who moved into the Manor six years ago.

As this population ages, financial obstacles also increase. “It’s a struggle, because the medical costs have skyrocketed,” said Father Oberg. In order to maintain the facility and quality of care for these men, the Society solicits the help of organizations and individuals who can donate resources.

“Because of the generosity of donors, we are able to keep going,” Father Oberg said.