In Praise of Former Homeless in the Pews: Father Joe “Saved My Life”

View of the congregation behind at Father Joe’s funeral. Photo by JW August

St. Rita Catholic Church was full of eclectic groups of people, as seen in San Diego on Tuesday.

Formal church outfits were mixed with T-shirts, sneakers and Florsheim. All the participants were there to pay homage to the priest who was dedicated to helping the homeless.



“At the end of the day, he wanted to be remembered as a good priest,” explains Auxiliary Bishop John Doran of San Diego, explaining Bishop Reverend Joseph Carroll.

Most participants can agree Father JoeAs we know, he was a “good priest”. He was successful in his life quest to help the homeless, many will agree.

It was certainly an emotion expressed by the couple present who benefited from Father Joe’s mission.

Betty, who asked not to use her name, said: “I want more people to dress like me.” I could see a lot of people scattered around the crowd.

Betty lived in Saint-Vincent and De Paul village, but was only able to meet Father Joe once. “He walked into our dormitory and everyone was surprised,” she said. “Oh, he was just glorious. He was excited because everyone was so excited to see him. The women laughed and continued with Father Joe, she recalled.

Betty said in a low voice, “I think he helped save my life. I had nowhere to go. Entering a women’s convalescent home because of alcoholism and drug addiction. Until I got there. “

She thought it was amazing what Father Joe had done. “I do it because it has helped so many people,” she said.

Bean, another attendee who said he was grateful to Father Joe, also declined to reveal his name. He said he originally came to San Diego looking for his grandmother and grandfather. He said, “I was on a long, long journey – I walked a long time.” When he arrived in the village, he had “no place to go or sleep.”

“I had my own room and was able to stay there and recover. It took me a while, “he said.” I work in the kitchen downstairs and start to eat regularly. It was great. “

“Father Joe saved my life,” he said.

Vean and Betty joined participants from a very different world, as well as other homeless people.

Former San Diego Mayor Roger Hedgecock, County Treasury Secretary Dan McAllister, State Assembly Member Toni Atkins and former San Diego City Assembly Member Valerie Stalings were in attendance .

Betsy and Vian might not have been well known, but there is no doubt that Father Joe was just as happy to see them pay homage to them.

JW August is a San Diego-based digital and broadcast journalist.

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