Father Frank Hull, SSJ
Father Frank Hull, 92, and a Josephite Father, was recently interviewed by SOAR!
At 92, Father Frank Hull is a man with a mission – a man who embraces change as a sign a growth and who proclaims, “You’re never too old to change.”
After morning Mass at St. Joseph Manor in Baltimore, Maryland, where he resides, Father Hull drives to the city where he serves as archivist for his community, the Society of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart. Better known as the Josephites, the order was founded in 1871. It is the only congregation of religious men in the United Sates founded specifically to serve the African-American community.
Father Frank Hull, SSJ, was born in Philadelphia in 1923. He attended Catholic elementary and high school and St. Joseph College in Philadelphia.
In World War II, Father Hull served in the Army Air Corps in the South Pacific. “It was during the war,” Father Hull says, “that I got my calling. I saw how poorly the African Americans serving in war were treated. I wanted to do something about the injustice and complete segregation.”
When he was in college, in 1947, one of his professors introduced him to the Josephites and their ministry to the Black community. Inspired by their selfless ministry, he entered the community and was ordained in 1957 at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.
Father Hull spent the first 20 years of his ministry teaching, editing his community magazine and then serving as rector of their high school in New Orleans. He recalls there were two separate athletic tracks in Louisiana and the black schools didn’t play the white schools. When college scouts came in to town to look for athletes and offer scholarships, they only recognized the white student league. The Josephites took the Louisiana government to court regarding the separation of the athletic leagues and won. This meant that both the black and white athletes could be scouted and offered opportunities for furthering their education.His service also took him to minister and pastor in parishes in Texas, New Orleans, Washington, DC and Virginia. At the age of 88 he retired from serving as pastor, but continues to help in parishes when needed.
At the age of 90, Father Hull was asked to serve as the community archivist for the order. He, along with another Josephite, who is an 85 year old priest, work every day going through the archives carefully to determine what records need to be preserved. “Reading about the past, and of the efforts of the Josephites to bring justice is inspiring.” Father Hull’s work means that future generations will benefit from learning about the legacy of these courageous men. He noted that his working with the faith of the people in the parishes really helped develop his own faith.
When asked about sharing a “pearl of wisdom,” Father Hull points to the book, The Fours Signs of a Dynamic Catholic by Michael Kelly. “Simply put, we need to be people of daily prayer, of daily study, of generosity with our time, talent and treasure, and we need to evangelize – do daily works of mercy as the Holy Father shows us and tells us.”
The Society of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart is a past recipient of SOAR! grants. The most recent grant in 2015 provided needed technology upgrades to the phone system at St. Joseph’s Manor where the retired priests reside, pray and continue to minister. SOAR! is grateful to its donors who help make the grants program possible.