Category: Josephite News

Requiescat in Pace Father John Joseph McBrearty

Father John Joseph McBrearty

The Josephite parishioners of St. Therese of Lisieux parish in Gulfport, MS, were saddened by the sudden death of their pastor, Father John Joseph McBrearty, on the afternoon of December 1, 2018.  At 87, he was the oldest active Josephite pastor. He is survived by a dear Sister-in Law, Evelyn McBrearty, of Donegal, Ireland. Three loving nieces, Noleen and Carmel, of Donegal, Ireland, and Rosemary of Sussex, England. A host loving of cousins in New York City.

Father McBrearty was born in Kilkar County, Donegal, Ireland on March 23, 1931.  After being educated in Ireland, he migrated to Chicago, IL and worked there for four years.  In 1958, he felt a vocation call to study for the priesthood with the St. Joseph’s Society of the Sacred Heart, and entered Epiphany Apostolic College in Newburgh, New York. Upon completion of his studies, John continued through the novitiate year and then priestly formation at St. Joseph Seminary in Washington, DC. On June 1, 1968, he was ordained a Josephite priest by Patrick Cardinal O. Boyle in Holy Comforter/St. Cyprian Church in Washington.

Fr. John’s first two priestly years were spent as an associate pastor at St. Vincent DePaul parish in Washington, DC.  Six years after this assignment he served as associate pastor at Church of the Epiphany parish in New Orleans.  He returned in 1974 to minister for three years as associate in Our Lady of Perpetual Help parish in Washington, DC.

Fr. John McBrearty received his first assignment as pastor in 1977, to Immaculate Conception parish in Lebeau, LA. After a brief stay he was assigned to Houston, TX, to pastor Our Lady Star of the Sea Church.  Four years later he did a two-year pastorate at Prince of Peace parish in Mobile, AL, followed by a six-year pastoral ministry at St. Francis of Assisi Church at Breaux Bridge, LA. In 1986 he served for one year at St. Joseph parish in Wilmington, DE, as pastor.

During the next sixteen years, Fr. McBrearty served as pastor at Sacred Heart, Raywood, TX (3 years), St. Joseph, Alexandria, VA (5 years) and St. Augustine, New Roads, LA (8 years).  He recently completed a renovation of the 80-year-old parish church at Gulfport, Mississippi.

A Funeral Mass for Fr. McBrearty will be held at 6:00 pm at St. Therese of Lisieux Church on Thursday, December 6, 2018.  A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 12:00 noon on Friday, December 7, 2018 at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana.  Burial will follow in the parish cemetery.

May he be at peace in his 50th year as a priest.

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.

The newest Josephite priest; Reverend Father Kingsley Ogbuji, SSJ Ordained Saturday 19th May 2018.

Congratulations Reverend Father Kingsley Ogbuji, SSJ

Ordination day of Fr. Kingsley with the ordaining bishop Ricard. Saturday 19th May 2018.

First Black Catholic Priest On His Way To Sainthood

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) — The first black Catholic priest ordained for the United States, who served in Chicago for several years, is one step closer to being named a “saint.”

The story of Fr. Augustus Tolton has been officially examined and approved by a historical commission at the Vatican which Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Perry describes as a “significant hurdle” to get over on the road to sainthood.

Bishop Perry believes that, by virtue of the approval of that historcal record, the “positio,” Tolton eventually will reach sainthood.

It still will literally take at least one, possibly two miracles.

“A lot of that depends, of course, if we can find an intervention of God for someone for which medicine cannot explain, a turnaround in health. We sent two candidates for that over and we’re hoping that at least one of them might be approved,” Bishop Perry said.

A theological commission will now examine the way Fr. Tolton led his life and another panel will seek to confirm miracles said to have happened because of people praying to Fr. Tolton. Bishop Perry says two possible miracles have been presented.  The bishop did not want to identify the people to whom those possible miracles occurred.

“It all depends on that miracle,” he said.

Fr. Tolton started St. Monica Church on the South Side in 1889 and died in Chicago in 1897 at the age of 43.

Bishop Perry said the Archdiocese of Chicago sent to Rome in 2014, 2,000 pages worth of documents on the life of Fr. Tolton.

To get to the point they are today, the bishop said six historical consultants looked at all of that material issued as a “heavily referenced” official story of Fr. Tolton’s life.  The archdiocese was told March 8 that the historical commission had approved the records sent from Chicago.

Bishop Perry said that, what makes Fr. Tolton a good candidate for sainthood, in his view, is that, “a lot of his life has to do with perseverance in a rather difficult time socially, the division among the races and the condition of American blacks, freed slaves, escaped slaves, people of color.”

The bishop said Fr. Tolton “was something of a pioneer in things like integration, bringing people together in a Christian community for which society, the Church just were not ready for.”

Bishop Perry said that, right now, the Vatican is examining 35 or 36 candidates for sainthood from the United States.

Learn more about Fr. Tolton in the book from the Josephite Pastoral Center.

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.”


Martin Luther King’s legacy: faith, hope and sacrifice

Washington D.C., (CNA/EWTN News).- Fifty years after the death of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Catholics can still learn much from his legacy, said a leader in the largest predominantly black Catholic organization in the U.S.

“Dr. King’s legacy is one of faith and overcoming external forces working against you. His life, work, and ultimate sacrifice illustrate that we are called to work for the greater good,” Percy Marchand, associate director of the Knights of Peter Claver, told CNA April 3. “Dr. King’s legacy is a shining example of self-deprecation and personal sacrifice for one’s fellow man.”

“Dr. King would not want us to look upon this day in sadness,” Marchand continued. “He would want us to look at it with inspiration and rededication; with hope and commitment; with love and compassion – even for our enemies or those who don’t love us.”

The Knights of Peter Claver is a New Orleans-based Catholic fraternal order present in about 39 states and in South America. Its membership is significantly African-American but open to all practicing Catholics without regard to race or ethnicity. Many of its members played a role in the U.S. civil rights movement of the mid-20th century, in which King, a Baptist minister, was the most prominent leader.

On Wednesday, the order joined in observing the 50th anniversary of the 1968 assassination of King in Memphis, Tenn. Catholic Bishop of Memphis Martin D. Holley led celebrations of two Masses and a “Walk of Faith” from a Catholic church to the National Civil Rights Museum in time for a program and a moment of silence.

Knights of Peter Claver Supreme Knight James Ellis and executive director Grant Jones were among those in attendance at the Memphis events.

“Dr. King was just a young man when he accepted the challenge that would ultimately lead him to being one of the most influential and powerful leaders in our history,” Marchand told CNA. “He wasn’t a millionaire. He wasn’t famous. He hadn’t ‘made it.’ We must each look at our lives and ask what we are doing to lead, to serve, to positively impact the world in which we live.”

“Our Catholic faith is rooted in humanity and teaches us that we were created in the image and likeness of God,” he continued. “Therefore, we have no room for promotion or tolerance of racism.”

While many Catholics were involved in the civil rights movement from the start, “there were many more who were actively fighting against civil rights and still more who stood silent,” Marchand noted, stressing that Catholics must be “strong in our faith” and must live out Catholic social teaching.

“We must directly face the evils that tend to divide us or negatively impact others,” he said. “This is what our Teacher, Jesus Christ, illustrated through His own life.”

“Dr. King taught us to be principled and genuine in our faith and actions. He taught us not to lower ourselves or compromise our values. He taught us to have faith and be obedient to our Heavenly Father rather than dwell on worldly problems,” said Marchand, adding that King “allowed God to lead his path and ultimately, his message prevailed.”

Marchand suggested many Catholics needs to improve their efforts to truly understand diversity and inclusion.

“The Church must be bold and purpose-driven when it comes to standing up for what is right and just – for all people,” he said.

Historically, some in the Catholic Church failed to stand up against segregation and racism, Marchand said.

“While the Church has certainly become more diverse in the years since the civil rights movement, Catholics in the South who had known slavery and segregation as a way of life, looked at those systemic issues as natural.”

As Church leaders started to take a stronger stance in rejecting segregation, Catholics were called by their faith to “turn away from hate and divisiveness,” he said, and the Church allowed many Catholics to “come together and begin the process of healing.”

In Marchand’s view, race relations within the Church have significantly improved since King’s day.

“In culturally diverse parishes across the country social interactions in various ministries have provided opportunities for all Catholics to learn and understand each other better,” he said. “Divisions remain in the Church to this day. We still have what are considered ‘White parishes’ and ‘Black parishes’ but the differences tend to be more about worship style and comfort rather than exclusion and hate.”

The Knights of Peter Claver were founded in Mobile, Ala. in 1909 by four Josephite priests and three Catholic laymen to serve African-Americans and other racial minorities. Its founders were concerned the Catholic Church would lose black Catholics to fraternal and secular organizations, at a time when racism in some parts of the South sometimes curtailed participation in parish life and Catholic associations.

In their opposition to segregation, the Knights of Peter Claver worked with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the National Urban League. One of its leading officers, civil rights attorney A.P. Tureaud, worked with future Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall to help overturn segregation laws. The order’s New Orleans headquarters hosted early meetings that led to the launch of the civil rights movement.

The order has six divisions, including the Ladies of Peter Claver and two separate junior divisions for young men and young women.

A Knights of Peter Claver spokesman told CNA that many local units of the organization would hold their own commemorations of King.

50 Years After the Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.

An Interview with Deacon Timothy Tilghman on the Catholic Church and the Civil Rights Movement

Justin McClain, National Catholic Register

Wednesday, April 4, marks 50 years since Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, brutal assassination by James Earl Ray, who gunned him down in Memphis on April 4, 1968. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued a statement for this occasion.

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Deacon Timothy Tilghman, a married deacon of our native Archdiocese of Washington, ordained in 2010. I first met Deacon Tilghman through his and his wife Jennifer’s ministerial support of the Forestville Pregnancy Center, on whose board of directors I have served for four years. The Tilghmans are devoted parents and grandparents. The story of Deacon Tilghman’s family was recently covered by Chaz Muth of the Catholic News Service, and Deacon Tilghman’s testimony has appeared in various national Catholic newspapers, including the Archdiocese of Boston’s The Pilot and the Diocese of Green Bay’s The Compass, as it appears here: “Deacon’s Family Grieved After King Assassination, Witnessed Aftermath.” There are also two Catholic News Service videos: “Family of Deacon’s Brush with MLK” and “Faithful Reflection on King Assassination.”

Deacon Tilghman, the youngest of 13 children, was 15 years old when King was assassinated. The following is the transcript of our interview, in which Deacon Tilghman shared his insights on the intersection of the life and legacy of Rev. Dr. King, the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s in general, Catholicism and the black community, the ministry of the Josephites, and the Catholic faith as experienced during the tumultuous 1960s.

Please tell us about your background and experience of faith.

I was formed in the Church in a day when Church and neighborhood were synonymous. I could walk an hour in any direction from my house and folks knew me because they had worked with my parents or one of my 12 older siblings. The neighborhood was extensive. My father’s parents were among the founding families at Saint Cyprian Catholic Church in 1893; my mother’s parents were at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Anacostia in 1920. My parents moved from Incarnation Catholic Church, where I was baptized, to be among the founding families at Saint Luke’s in SE Washington, DC, in 1957. I was in the first graduating class at Saint Benedict the Moor Elementary School.

The common element in these parishes was the presence of the Josephites. I grew up with the Josephite charism, and patterned my life on the Josephite way. I was attracted to my wife Jennifer because we shared a common sense of faith; I later discovered that she grew up with the Josephites in New Orleans.

What was it like living as a young black Catholic man during the Civil Rights Era?

Everybody in the neighborhood was excited about Dr. King and what he did. I don’t know if I see that happening today. I had a friend, Tyrone Williams, who died a number of years ago. He would impersonate King speeches, and people enjoyed hearing those impersonations. There was a great sense of community, of wanting to be in King’s presence. My cousin Sahon said of him, “I was really drawn to judging people by the content of their character, instead of the color of their skin” (a direct reference to King’s iconic words).

King was exciting; he was electric. It was inspirational to see a man of color who was able to bring hundreds of thousands of people together. Down in Alabama, the Montgomery bus boycotts lasted around 400 days, and people united for a just cause. It forced people to recognize us blacks for who we are, people of great faith and power. There has not been a demonstration of power like the Montgomery bus boycotts since then.

What was the relationship like between Catholics and other Christians in general in the 1960s, independent of the Civil Rights Movement?

There was a lot of emphasis on what was “different.” There were even Christians who said that Catholics were not Christians. We didn’t understand each other’s faith traditions, and what we didn’t understand, we found “scary,” so we avoided it. Vatican II recognized the value in Christian traditions, such as the document on ecumenism [Unitatis Redintegratio]. The same is true for other faith traditions. The Church recognized this over 50 years ago, and recognized it quite clearly. If we were the Church that we read about on paper in Vatican II, our world would be a much better place. We need faith, because our faith will carry us through, no matter what the challenge of the day is.

Where were you when you heard that Rev. Dr. King was assassinated?

I was at home. My father said: “You’re not going out!” I watched a lot of things on TV, and smelled a lot of smoke in the neighborhood. Eventually, we got the chance to go out and into the city. My father was a union leader who knew a lot of people throughout the city, so he helped to deliver food and to be of service during a very difficult moment.

What are some things that the Church can learn from the experience of the King years?

The Church can remember its roots. Everything that Dr. King stood for – every principle that he applied in his life – when he talked about love and justice and community, you will see if you read through the 16 documents of Vatican II. We need to make sure to articulate what we believe, and act on that with conviction. We hold fast to everything that we see that is a representation of the absolute truth that Christ is alive and acting in the world, and is committed to transforming the world. “God is love” (1 John 4:8). King did what he did because he loved people. He saw people in the right way, and I say that he loved President Johnson. He didn’t give President Johnson a pass; King converted this “son of the south.” Dr. King didn’t act in the box. He talked about voting rights, about the Vietnam War. Our life is based on the great Commandments: to love God and neighbor. King lived the Great Commandments in a real, practical sense, and if we live that in a real, practical sense, things will be better.

Do you have any closing thoughts for readers about how we can honor King’s legacy, looking at the involvement of the Catholic Church in the Civil Rights Movement?

There are a whole lot of things that go along with that. I talk about that in my own book, Going to the Well to Build Community. In Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well, he recognized her brokenness. He met her in her brokenness and looked for something of the image of the Father in her. The woman spoke of their common ancestor, Jacob, who gave us this well. When she asked him about the living water, it is a reminder to seek Jesus’ healing power.

We can find the image of Christ in everyone whom we encounter. The pope speaks about this encounter in the Joy of the Gospel: “The Church will have to initiate everyone – priests, religious and laity – into this ‘art of accompaniment’ which teaches us to remove our sandals before the sacred ground of the other (cf. Exodus 3:5). The pace of this accompaniment must be steady and reassuring, reflecting our closeness and our compassionate gaze which also heals, liberates, and encourages growth in the Christian life” (Evangelii Gaudium, paragraph #169). I ask people to go back to their childhood. Everyone knew you and your family; we shared history and a values system. That values system was rooted in the Gospel, in faith. That grounded nature, that sense of anchor, is what made the Civil Rights Movement possible.

That is what Cardinal Wuerl calls out in his 2017 pastoral letter on racism [The Challenge of Racism Today], since we need to speak about each other as brothers and sisters. We recognize the faith of the African-American community. Through slavery, through Jim Crow, through segregation, people persevered because we were rooted in faith. To bring it directly to Dr. King, he was rooted in that faith tradition. There in Atlanta, he could not walk away from that faith. I can’t walk away from my faith of the Josephite Fathers and Brothers that I received at Saint Luke’s Church and at Saint Benedict the Moor School. It’s rooted in who I am.

This year is 50 years for various things: in New Orleans, we will celebrate 50 years of the permanent diaconate. The first men to serve as deacons in the U.S. came from Josephite parish communities. The Josephites were instrumental in showing how to live the faith as a married, ordained, Catholic man, not just for their parishioners, but for all who were called to the diaconate.

The point of being in the Church is being rooted and grounded in faith and sharing that faith. We didn’t know what would happen when Christ was crucified on that Friday afternoon. King’s death was a moment of darkness, and a great deal of light came from his life. We are the Easter people, and we celebrate the Resurrection with our brothers and sisters.

Deacon’s family grieved after King assassination, witnessed aftermath

WASHINGTON (CNS) — It has been 50 years since civil rights leader the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, but Deacon Timothy E. Tilghman, his sister and his cousin, still remember the enormous sense of loss they felt when they received that news April 4, 1968.

As the 50th anniversary of Rev. King’s murder approaches, these three family members also recalled the turmoil, bewilderment and burning buildings they witnessed as rioting stormed through Washington and other U.S. cities in the days that followed.

The deacon, who is on the staff of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church in Southeast Washington, was 15 and said the grief he experienced was akin to a close family member being violently murdered, even though his family’s association with Rev. King was from afar.

He wasn’t alone in his sorrow.

Deacon Tilghman was at St. Benedict the Moor Catholic School when he heard about the assassination. As he walked on the school’s playground he watched the nuns and his fellow students, most of them young black Catholics like himself, cry as they absorbed the blow.

“There was a sense of despair, there was a great sense of loss,” he told Catholic News Service.

By the 1960s, Deacon Tilghman and his family had been Catholic for several generations and had a long connection to the Josephites, a religious community known for its help of the newly freed slaves in America following the U.S. Civil War.

Even though Rev. King was a Baptist minister, he transcended religious identification for the deacon, his parents, his 12 brothers and sisters, his cousins and his fellow black Catholics who saw the civil rights leader as an inspirational crusader for justice and peace.

The family closely watched Rev. King’s rise to national prominence and applauded his efforts in the civil rights movement.

As black Americans, they were motivated to become involved in the movement themselves, along with the leaders of their church.

On Aug. 28, 1963, the deacon’s sister, Mary Tilghman Shearad, went to the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom with their father, Cyprian Olave Tilghman, and was thrilled to witness Rev. King’s famed “I Have a Dream” speech.

Shearad was horrified when she heard the news April 4, 1968, that Rev. King had been gunned down in Memphis, Tennessee, and she sensed tension from people all around her in Washington that day.

“There was no calmness in the city,” she told CNS. “You could just feel things brewing.”

The next day, while she was working at American Security Bank in downtown Washington, the riots began.

“The city just exploded,” Shearad said. “You could look out the window, see fires, you could see cars being trampled. It was terrifying.”

She was at the corner of 14th and I streets in Washington’s Northwest section and witnessed a men’s clothing store explode. “The glass blew out and I just started running.”

Shearad and Tilghman’s cousin, Sahon Palmer, was a 22-year-old student at Howard University and attending classes when the riots broke out and she recalls watching the city descend into pandemonium.

“I was so afraid,” Palmer said. “First, someone had just killed Dr. King and I was heartbroken over that, and all of that chaos, burning buildings, noise and sirens and I was trying to get home from school. My mother was having a fit.”

Known as the Holy Week Uprising (because it occurred during the week between Palm Sunday and Easter), the rampage left 39 dead, about 2,600 injured and resulted in an estimated $65 million in property damage in dozens of U.S. cities.

The riots came while the Tilghman family was still grieving the loss of Rev. King, but they knew they wanted to do something, anything, to help, Deacon Tilghman said.

So, he and one of his brothers mobilized with their father, traveled through the rioting streets of Washington, and delivered food to the people impacted by the chaos, confusion and destruction.

Though witnessing the riots was frightening, Deacon Tilghman said his journey with his father throughout those tumultuous Washington streets was a pivotal moment in his life.

In the midst of the rioting, he recalled witnessing people who were in anguish over the King murder, people who had lost hope that racial equality and human rights would ever become a reality in their country.

But, Deacon Tilghman also said their simple act of kindness of delivering food throughout the city appeared to help a distraught population.

“Being able to go out and do things with my father took care of that sense of despair for me,” he said, “and there was a sense of hope, there was a sense of joy, because, we could do something to bring something back into somebody’s life. To bring some sense of peace and some sense of stability.”

Deacon Tilghman said it was his father’s Catholic values that drove him to reach out to the people who were suffering that day and it left an immeasurable impression on him.

It was the catalyst to his future work with the Josephites and then later as an ordained Catholic deacon.

Rev. King too served as the deacon’s inspiration as he established his own ministry.

“I’m trying to live the faith the way all of these men did,” Deacon Tilghman said. “It drove me in 1968 and I’m much clearer on what drives and informs me today.”