Category: parish news

Father James Albert Hayes, Josephite priest, dies at age 92

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FATHER JAMES ALBERT HAYES, SSJ

December 19, 1924 – July 13, 2017

In his 62nd year as a Josephite priest, Father James Albert Hayes passed to a new life at St. Joseph Manor, Baltimore, MD, on July 13, 2017. He had been retired for 15 years and in the past year experienced a serious illness. He recently celebrated his 92nd birthday.

Father Hayes was born December 19, 1924, in Presque Isle, Maine, one of three sons and one daughter of Albert and Verna (O’Brien) Hayes. He served with the Army Air Corps in World War II and graduated from Holy Cross College, Worcester, MA, in 1950. Motivated by the mission of the Josephites, he then entered their formation program and was ordained in his home parish church in Presque Isle on June 4, 1955.

His parochial assignments as a priest were limited to two St. Joseph churches, one in Jackson, TN, for the month of July, 1955, and the other in Wilmington, DE, in August of the same year. For the rest of his priesthood, he was associated with the Josephite seminaries in Newburgh, NY, and Washington, DC.

From September of 1955 to September of 1984, he was on the staff of Epiphany Apostolic College in Newburgh, NY. He served as as faculty member teaching Religion, English and the Humanities. In addition, he had been Prefect of Discipline, Director of Athletics, Principal of the High School and Rector of the College and overseer of the building until its final sale in the mid-’80s. During this time, Father obtained a Master’s Degree in the Humanities from St. Bonaventure University in Olean, NY.

During his time at Newburgh, Father Hayes became interested in and studied painting and sculpture and held several exhibits of his work of over 100 pieces of art, some of which adorn several Josephite houses.

In 1985, he was assigned to St. Joseph’s Seminary as assistant director and supervisor of its custodial care as well as assistant to the Pastoral Center. He also had five more exhibits of his art work. In 2001, he retired to Maine on sick leave and ten years later entered St. Joseph Manor.

Father Hayes is predeceased by his parents; sister, Mary and brothers, Jack and Father Pat of the Portland, Maine, Diocese. He is survived by several nieces and nephews including Father William Shaughnessey, an Opus Dei priest.

His funeral Mass will be celebrated at St. Joseph Manor, Baltimore on Thursday, July 20, 2017. Burial will be at the Josephite plot in New Cathedral Cemetery, Baltimore. May he find the peace and joy of the Lord which he sought to express in his art.

A life of service

St. Luke parish in Washington honors long-serving staff for commitment

By Ariana Cassard

Successful parishes need a dedicated staff. At St. Luke Church in Washington, D.C., two men were recently honored for more than four decades of service to the parish community.

John Quarles joined the staff at St. Luke Church over 40 years ago. As director of St. Luke’s Community Center, Mr. Quarles showed up every day to care for the center and the programs that take place there.

St. Luke’s Community Center is the social arm of the parish. It is home to a number of community programs, such as youth basketball, social activities, Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous programs, and CSOSA, a program run by the U.S. Justice Department to re-integrate those returning home from incarceration. Mr. Quarles cared for each of these activities.

“He lifts up his Catholic faith and understands the meaning of service,” said Josephite Father Cornelius Ejiogu, pastor of St. Luke Church and personal friend to Mr. Quarles.

When Father Cornelius began his pastorate at St. Luke, Mr. Quarles was one of the first men he met. The other was Eugene Russell.

Mr. Russell is described as a quiet, dedicated man who has devoted his life to doing the background work at St. Luke.

Mr. Russell began working in maintenance at St. Luke 23 years ago, as an assistant to the maintenance supervisor. By the time of his retirement, he had been promoted to maintenance engineer.

His duties included ensuring the church is properly taken care of both on the inside and outside, as well as welcoming groups at the church for parties and meetings. Father Cornelius praised Mr. Russell’s dedication to the church, saying he cared for it as he would his own home.

Mr. Russell told The Harvest that in his retirement, he misses the parishioners the most. “I love interacting with the parishioners of the church. It was very helpful for me with my job,” he said.

The legacy of these two men was celebrated with a retirement party in the church hall in January. Over 300 parishioners, friends and family members gathered for a Mass of Thanksgiving, followed by a luncheon in St. Luke Center. Each retiree was awarded a plaque in appreciation of their years of service.

Both Mr. Quarles and Mr. Russell will be remembered for the impact they had on St. Luke Church. “These men loved St. Luke with all their heart, and I think that’s the genesis of all their sacrifice,” said the pastor.

While they have retired from their duties, Father Cornelius said he would not miss these men, because he will still see them at Mass every Sunday.

‘I am a product of a Josephite parish’

Father Rodney Armstrong

By Ariana Cassard

Editor’s note: This article is part of a series introducing Harvest readers to Josephite priests and brothers in ministry.

Father Rodney Armstrong’s Catholic education has always been rooted in the Josephite society.

“I became a Josephite because I am a product of a Josephite parish,” said Father Armstrong, who was baptized and confirmed in Corpus Christi church in New Orleans. He has always been a Josephite parishioner and credits his vocation to this deep involvement.

Beyond his rich Josephite history, the Josephite mission was what called Father Armstrong to the priesthood. “It was the only community of priests and brothers that worked exclusively in the African-American Catholic community,” Father Armstrong told The Harvest.

This unique charism placed the Josephites at the top of a young Armstrong’s vocational considerations.

As a summer seminarian, Father Armstrong learned more about the role of a Josephite priest while serving in a series of Texas parishes. After his ordination in 1991, his first assignment was as an associate pastor in Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Washington, D.C.

Throughout his experience as a Josephite, each assignment has delivered different joys and challenges. He faced his greatest challenge during his assignment at Holy Family church in McNair, Texas.

The parish was in need of a new facility to better serve its parishioners and community members. Father Armstrong was tasked with creating a new parish center. Although it was difficult to get the project off the ground from conception to completion, the outcome cemented this project in his mind as a victory.

“It was a game-changer for the parish,” said Father Armstrong. “It made all the difference in the life of the parish.” With additional classrooms, office space, a commercial-sized dining room and kitchen, the completion of this parish center aided and encouraged Father Armstrong in his ministry at Holy Family.

After reflecting on this logistical triumph, Father Armstrong told The Harvest that his greatest joy in his vocation has been serving people. “Working in the parish is what I call ‘being in the trenches’ because that is where the basic work of the church is done.”

Throughout his 26 years of service, he has had the privilege of forming relationships with parishioners from different parishes across the country, each of which he has cherished.

“In many of those situations you are embraced and you become part of the people’s lives, and sometimes part of their families,” said Father Armstrong.

Father Armstrong now serves as the pastor at Our Lady Star of the Sea in Houston, Texas, which included for the first three years a part-time chaplaincy at Texas Southern University Catholic Newman Center.

Father Armstrong celebrated the 25th anniversary of his ordination in 2016.

‘Thank you St. Joseph for leading us to the Josephites’

Four priests honored for 220 years of ministry

By John Powers

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 our warmest love for your service and dedication,” he said at the conclusion of the Mass.

He said that stories of their early ministry in rural areas of the south, missionary territory for Josephites, were overwhelming. “But God gave you the grace to do saintly and extraordinary things. Now we take up the mantle and continue in the missionary spirit that you have shown throughout your years of priestly service.”

Father Filippelli, a former superior general, gave the homily, which recounted Josephite history and challenges that racism posed both inside and outside the church.

“The most important work in the church today is fulfilling an obligation to African Americans.”

Speaking from a wheelchair, Father Filippelli preached about the virtues of St. Joseph. “It was Joseph who taught Jesus to speak and to work. Listening to Jesus is like listening to Joseph.”

He described an effort by Pope John XXIII who, at the Second Vatican Council, aimed to increase awareness of St. Joseph as patron of the church. But when the saintly pope died as the Council began, the St. Joseph campaign was stalled. “It took 50 more years before St. Joseph’s name was added to the Eucharistic prayer,” he said.

Describing the role of St. Joseph as the “first missionary,” Father Filippelli recalled how the founder of the Josephites, Cardinal Vaughn, was instructed to start his missionary work. “He was told to go to the United States and to respond to the needs of the recently emancipated people there. And we give thanks for the good work that they did.”

He said that after World War II, there were a quarter of a million African American Catholics mostly due to the work of the Josephites. “Why didn’t we have more,” he asked. “Because we didn’t understand racism.”

Father Filippelli indicated that there was racism inside the church as well as in society. “The greatest challenge is to continue the missionary work among the African American community. The most important work in the church today is fulfilling an obligation to African Americans.”

Reflecting on his life as a Josephite, Father Filippelli said, “Each and every Josephite who has given a permanent commitment has received the gifts of joy and peace that come from serving in the African American community. This permanent commitment is a special gift from God. We all can say thank you to St. Joseph for leading us to the Josephites and the African American community.”

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

Knights of Peter Claver Council and Court 398 Honoring Josephite’s Military Veterans

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Knights of Peter Claver Council and Court 398 Honoring Josephite’s
Military Veteran on May 29, 2017

Knight John and Lady Linda Dogan Donate Piano

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Knights of Peter Claver Council 398 help deliver a piano donated by Knight John and Lady Linda Dogan to the St. Joseph’s Seminary, Washington DC. on May 27, 2017

FIEFFE 4 Haiti Foundation Afternoon Champagne Tea

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FIEFFE 4 Haiti Foundation Afternoon Champagne Tea held May 20, 2017

Two of the Oblate Sisters of Providence attended: Sr. Magdala Marie and Sr. Mary Ngina
also Anthony J. Johnson (St. Joseph Catholic Church, Alexandria, VA).

Fieffe Foundation for Haiti (FF4H) is an organization committed to improving the lives of women and youth of Bainet, Haiti. Since 2004, it strives to increase their access to education, agriculture, health care; it continues to empower them through environmental activism and social responsibility. A number of projects have been implemented to ensure that their basic everyday needs are taken care of, and many more are underway. Our long-term goal is to build a self-sustainable community and give the people the resources they need to become independent. Here are some ways you can join us in our efforts.

Visit www.fieffefoundation.org to learn about our ongoing initiatives!

Current projects include our thriving scholarship program, our continuous involvement in the Center for Promotion Feminine in Arts & Management (CPROFAM), our inspiring tree building project, our educational children summer camp, among other things.

Our two upcoming projects are ambitious but definitely achievable:

1) Build the first library in the region to increase literacy and

2) Open a medical clinic and organize medical missions to improve and sustain good health in the region.

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>>>

Baltimore mom prays for racial healing, solutions to social injustice

Editors: A video to accompany this story can be found at https://youtu.be/ydoPk9YinTg

BALTIMORE (CNS) — Crystal Morris is a busy woman. The 55-year-old West Baltimore resident makes sure her neighborhood church is always open for those who seek Jesus.

Crystal Morris poses for a photo outside the rectory of St. Peter Claver Church in Baltimore March 7. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn) See MOTHERS-DAY-SOCIAL-AWARENESS April 11, 2017.

Nestled near the corner of Bloom Street and North Freemont Avenue, sandwiched between an elementary school and a catchall grocery, she answers God’s phone calls and doorbells, researches baptismal records, and even washes and irons his altar linens.

Crystal Morris poses for a photo in the rectory of St. Peter Claver Church in Baltimore March 9. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn) See MOTHERS-DAY-SOCIAL-AWARENESS April 11, 2017.

“This church has been a beacon of hope for a lot of people in our community,” she told Catholic News Service from St. Peter Claver Church’s rectory. “We have people coming in and out of here asking for help with rent, gas, electricity — they come here for food and clothing.”

Poverty is no joke in the Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood. Door after door, window after window, homes are boarded up with a sadness associated with war.

In 2015, residents took to these same streets near the African-American church to feud with police after 25-year-old Freddie Gray died in their custody.

“Some people are not grounded and rooted in Christ,” the mother of three adult children said about social injustices. “I tell my two daughters to keep praying. Pray because God can do anything but fail.”

Crystal Morris, holding Bible, poses March 9 for a photo with her sister Bernadette Johnson, and her two daughters Cierra, far left, and Candace, right. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn) See MOTHERS-DAY-SOCIAL-AWARENESS April 11, 2017.

Prayer and song, Morris makes sure her devotion is heard during Mass as a choir member.

“She loves herself some Smokie Norful!” her youngest daughter Cierra, 20, said about her mom’s appreciation for the Grammy-winning gospel singer. “She sings all around the house like 24/7.”

“She thinks she’s Whitney Houston!” Candace, her eldest daughter, 23, said jokingly.

Church life and church employment have been a blessing for the Morris family. Crystal told CNS that she thanks God for her time on earth because she, too, has lost friends and family to drug and alcohol addiction, and violence.

“It takes a village,” Morris said when asked about raising kids under these circumstances. “The older women in the parish always had an eye out (for each other’s children) and the kids did not like that. Sometimes they would get a little puffy and give you a look, but they stayed respectful.”

“I think it’s a good thing that mom works at the church,” Candace said.

“We can tell it’s a big part of her, and it feels good,” Cierra said.

Crystal Morris shows the Bible her mother gave her and her sister in 1972. Morris credits her mother for her spiritual foundation in Christ. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn) See MOTHERS-DAY-SOCIAL-AWARENESS April 11, 2017.

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.