Fr. Peter Daly
June 8, 2006
That’s the feeling
I got after spending a week giving a retreat to the Josephite priests and
brothers from the hurricane ravaged parts of
The Josephites are a community of just under 150 priests and brothers. They are the only religious community in the Church with a vocation to serve the African American community.
things have looked pretty bleak lately for both the
Everybody knows the devastation wrought by the Hurricanes, the evil twin sisters Katrina and Rita.
Two of the pastors on the retreat lost their parishes altogether. Several are being reassigned because their communities are “mothballed” for 18 months until it can be determined if people are coming back.
Over the past several years, like many religious orders, the Josephites have lost members as the elderly die and very few young men coming forward for vows.
But, this is where the hope comes in.
this community is back on the radar screen of the
The Josephites do not seem dispirited.
True they are aging. Their median age is 70. Five of the active pastors on the retreat were over the age of 80. But they are still active in ministry in their eighth decade of life.
kinds of disasters that had befallen them, like
them, Fr. Bart Endslow, 86, is living in a little FEMA travel trailer. His
rectory in Pass Christian,
Thompson, one of the youngest Josephites at age 48, spent several days on an interstate
Fr. Ray Bomberger, spent several nights in the dark and quiet of
their age and whatever disaster befell them, the Josephites were focused on the
future. In a strange way, these terrible storms might be a blessing for the
Catholics of the
The hurricanes have given those communities new drive and purpose.
hurricanes have also reminded the rest of the
Maybe there is opportunity in all this disaster. There is a chance to invite African American men into work in the vineyard of the Lord. There is also a chance to remind the whole U.S. Catholic Church that the work of building a just society and a multi-racial church is far from done.
have certainly changed my life. Our parish has now made four trips to the
The experience of my parish has been replicated in dozens of other parishes and hundreds of other people around the country.
This is not an opportunity to be lost. The Josephites don’t intend to lose it.
That is why they have hope.