On a recent unseasonably mild mid-December morning, I had the great privilege of visiting St. Joseph Manor in Baltimore, which serves as a house of prayer and retirement home for Priests and Brothers of the Society of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart, better known as the Josephites.

St. Joseph Manor Rector Father Paul Oberg, SSJ and Father John Fillippelli, SSJ.

St. Joseph Manor Rector Father Paul Oberg, SSJ and Father John Fillippelli, SSJ.

As soon as I walked in the door, I was welcomed joyfully by Fr. Francis Butler, SSJ, who resides there. There are currently 19 Josephites in residence.  I spent my time talking with a number of the Priests and Brothers as well as with a couple staff members and volunteers.

“The Josephites’ concern for one another and their positive acceptance of everyone is so beautiful.  I’m the one who’s blessed by being here” said Jeannie MacDonald, a volunteer at St. Joseph’s Manor.  Her sentiments were echoed by the staff and volunteers I met.

“It’s been an eventful life,” said Fr. Jeremiah Brady, who is 92 and a former rector of St. Joseph Manor. Father Brady spent many years in Mobile, Alabama, and found it most rewarding to be living close to the people in their communities, and walking with them through the challenges of the times they faced, and continue to face in other ways today.

The Josephites are the only congregation of religious men in the United States founded specifically to minister to the African-American community. With vibrant spirits and hearts full of love, they have faithfully fulfilled this mission since 1871.

Fr. Jeremiah Brady, SSJ (standing), Fr. Robert Zawacki, SSJ and Father Charles Moffat, SSJ (seated)

Fr. Jeremiah Brady, SSJ (standing), Fr. Robert Zawacki, SSJ and Father Charles Moffat, SSJ (seated)

The reality facing the Josephites today is that there are fewer active priests and more needing assistance due to age and health reasons.  As a result, they reached out to SOAR! for help.  Thanks to our donors, SOAR! come to their aid.

In 2015, SOAR! provided a grant to upgrade the phone and nurse call system. Now it’s easier for the Priests and Brothers to communicate with others and with the health care staff at the Manor. In 2014, SOAR! awarded a grant that provided much-needed updated furniture, including recliners.  “I can’t thank the SOAR! donors enough for the recliners.  They make such a difference to so many of us,” said Father Dan Bastianelli, who is 83.

As I left the Manor, I knew that, indeed, I was blessed by my time there.

Elizabeth Góral-Makowski
Director of Development