‘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.

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