FAITH ALIVE: Pastor, St. Joseph Catholic Church Ft. Mitchell, Ala.

December 13, 2008 

How long have you been at St. Joseph and where were you serving previously? I arrived at St. Joseph Church in Ft. Mitchell this past August. I was serving at St. Joseph Church in Bainbridge, Ga., where I worked for four years. Prior to working in Georgia, I was missioned to Central America. Describe your parish, and your order. St. Joseph parish was established in 1929 by our founder, Fr. Thomas Augustine Judge. Fr. Judge was a missionary priest who set up his first church to be a center for missionary training and Catholic life. His vision continues today with a diversity of programs and outreaches. The parish is home to 130 families who live in the rural community of Russell County. Many of the church members are active and retired military families who are connected to Fort Benning. It is a diverse Church community which includes members from different states of our nation, Philippines, Guam, Puerto Rico, Korea, Mexico, Guatemala, Brazil and Germany. The parish has an outreach to poor families who live throughout the county. A team of missionary priests and brothers live at St. Joseph and serve in several mission outreaches of the area. Fr. Clif Marquis and Brother Crucito Concepcion are chaplains for the Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Ga. They serve nearly 2,000 detainees who are awaiting deportation to their home countries.

Fr. Marco Antonio Sanchez and Brother Fabian Farias serve Spanish speaking communities in Eufaula, Union Springs, Clio, Abbeyville, Troy, Enterprise and Dothan.

Brother David Sommers and I serve the Church of St. Joseph. I also serve as pastor of the Spanish-speaking community at St. Patrick’s in Phenix City.

Who’s in your family? I am the oldest of nine children. I have five brothers and three sisters. My parents have always been the inspiration for my faith. My mother recently died of a brain aneurysm. My father has visited me at St. Joseph to enjoy the local fishing.

What’s your hometown and how did that shape you? I was born in South Central Los Angeles. My father was transferred by his work to Orange, Calif., when I was 11 years old. Orange County was just then beginning to develop as a suburban center. Previously, I attended Catholic schools. Then I attended public school, where there were few Catholics. What impressed me was to meet others who belonged to other churches who had a firm faith in Jesus.

What concerns you? I have been concerned for years over several issues. Having worked in Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean I know what an impact that the U.S. has on those countries. We have a great opportunity to build up societies beyond our borders and enjoy what those societies contribute to our wellbeing. We are definitely a world power that influences. My concern is that we are focusing mostly on being an economic power rather than a moral power. We have been making so many decisions as a nation that focus on our economic interests and gain. Policies that would collaborate with the economic realities of our neighbors in Latin America would build us into a tremendous hemisphere for many generations.

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