Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Brother Jose, RIP

This morning the postulants are joining many of the friars for the funeral of another of our own, Fr. Joseph McCarthy, who died on Nov. 11 at St. Clare Friary in Yonkers. He was known affectionately as Brother Jose because of his great love for Spanish-speaking peoples, whom he served in ministry for 50 years.

Many senior friars reside at St. Clare Friary, and while I cannot remember all their faces and names, I am certain I first met Brother Jose there last fall. He moved into St. Clare last November, but I distinctly recall meeting him in late September when I visited Yonkers on the eve of a discernment weekend. In our short conversation I was impressed by his compassion for the poor, his understanding of the lives of ordinary people in Latin America, and his affection for Archbishop Oscar Romero. I wish we had more time in this life to get acquainted.

In lieu of personal anecdotes of this great and good soul, of which I have none, let me share instead an obituary from the Capuchins' provincial office of communications. In doing so, you may glimpse the full cycle of religious life and see in microcosm the Capuchin universe.

Father Joseph McCarthy, O.F.M. Cap.

EARLY YEARS: Joseph Patrick McCarthy, Jr. was born to Joseph Patrick and Muriel Margaret Ursula Gonsalves-McCarthy on May 9, 1934 in Woodside, N.Y. His two sisters, Suzanne and Muriel, completed  the family of five who worshipped at St. Teresa the Little Flower Church, also in Woodside. Joseph attended the parish school from 1940 to 1948; Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School, 1948-49; and Glenclyffe High School in Garrison, N.Y., where he graduated in 1952.

FORMATION: As a member of the first class of the newly established Province of St. Mary, Joseph was invested at the Capuchin novitiate of Saint Lawrence in Milton, Mass., on 31 August 1952 receiving the name Francis. One year later he pronounced his first vows in Milton on 01 September 1953.

Francis began his philosophical studies first at Mary Immaculate Friary in Garrison (1953-56), then at the new St. Anthony Friary, Hudson, N.H. (1956-57). He was perpetually professed at St. Anthony Friary on September 1, 1956. Francis studied theology at Mary Immaculate from 1957 to 1961. He was ordained by Auxiliary Bishop James Griffiths on June 25, 1960 at Sacred Heart Church in Yonkers, N.Y., along with Jerome McHugh, Dominic Silvestro, Mark Frazier, and Barry McMahon.

LOWER EAST SIDE: Following his pastoral year at Sacred Heart (1961-62), our brother Joseph has dedicated almost 50 years of his ministerial life in the service of Spanish-speaking peoples. Joseph had ministered at Our Lady of Sorrows in lower Manhattan as a parochial assistant on three occasions: 1962-1968, 1978-1980, and 2001-2002. During his earliest years at Our Lady of Sorrows and while continuing his studies in the Spanish language, he would best be remembered for establishing one of the largest Schools of Religious Education in the Archdiocese of New York. Acknowledging his hard work and great accomplishments, in 1965, Joseph was appointed Regional Director for the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine for the entire lower Manhattan region by the then Auxiliary Bishop-Elect, Terence J. Cooke.

During his second assignment at Our Lady of Sorrows, Joseph would continue to collaboratively develop innumerable programs and resources for the Spanish-speaking parishioners, including sacramental preparation programs, counseling and spiritual directions services, youth spiritual and recreation opportunities, as well as societies and parochial organizations. Given his avid interest in the liturgical life of the parish, Joseph edited and published the first comprehensive Spanish hymnal utilized in that setting for many years to follow.

From 1969 to 1972, while residing with the friar community of Our Lady Queen of Angels in East Harlem, Joseph was the Archdiocesan Coordinator of Hispanic Youth Programs.

MISSIONARY: In addition to his short ministerial experiences in El Salvador and Honduras, Joseph would devote twenty-seven years as a missionary in Puerto Rico. From 1972 to 1978 he resided with the Province of St. Augustine friar community of San Miguel in Utuado. He first served as a religion teacher in a local high school as well as the parochial coordinator of religious education. His ministry would later develop into what he would term "campo priest" responsible for parish work in four outlying districts of Utuado; distribution and sacramental development; home visitations; counseling; and maintenance of facilities and administration of funds.

In 1980 Joseph once again returned to Puerto Rico to serve as a parochial assistant at San Miguel in Utuado. During the Vice Province Chapter gathering of 1981, Joe was elected second counselor. At the following Chapter of 1984, he was elected Vice Provincial and served in that position until 1990.

Following his term as vice provincial, Joseph remained in Puerto Rico offering assistance to the new vice provincial and serving in parochial ministry.

OUTREACH MINISTRY: Returning to the Province in 2001 and after spending a year at Our Lady of Sorrows, Joseph was ask to develop a Hispanic outreach ministry in connection with Capuchin Youth and Family Ministries in Garrison, N.Y., while residing with the newly-established friar community of St. Joachim in Beacon, N.Y. Joseph served in this ministry until 2006.

MINISTRY IN MANCHESTER: In 2006, Joe joined the fraternity of Saint Anne-Saint Augustin in Manchester, N.H., assisting in the pastoral care of the parish community. Although Joseph suffered several health-related setbacks, Joe continued to be a vital member of the parochial staff, offering his time and energy in the service of this multi-cultural worshipping community.

COMMUNITY OF SAINT CLARE: Joseph was welcomed by the senior friar community of St. Clare in Yonkers on November 1, 2010, where he peacefully passed away on November 11, 2011. He was survived by two sisters: Suzanne Harries from Lawrenceville, Ga.; and Muriel Gilleran from St. James, N.Y.

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