YEAR FOR PRIESTS

Meet your priests: Father Joseph A. Pescatello

Pope Benedict XVI has declared the period of June 19, 2009 to June 19, 2010 as the Year for Priests. During this period, Rhode Island Catholic presents a series of interviews with diocesan and religious order priests ministering in the Diocese of Providence. Priests were chosen at random and sent a list of questions. The responses are published as written by those who have answered the call to serve Christ and his church.

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Catholic chaplain of Bryant University and pastor of Our Lady of Good Help, Burrillville.

When did you first think of becoming a priest? I first thought of becoming a priest in elementary school. I attended our parish school, Immaculate Conception in Westerly, and was an altar server.

Was there anyone in your childhood who inspired and encouraged your vocation by their example of holiness, such as a parent, grandparent or religious sister or brother? (Did you attend Catholic schools?) I was inspired by our parish priests and particularly our pastor of many years. My father’s faith particularly inspired me. He has always been a faithful and prayerful person and a man of strong convictions and values.

What is the greatest joy of being a priest? My greatest joy of being a priest is the privilege and responsibility of leading the community in prayer, particularly in celebrating the Eucharist and preaching. This is also the most humbling moment of my day as I realize the awesome responsibility involved, ever aware of my own humanity. I truly enjoy being with people, especially at some of the most significant moments of their lives.

Can you share an experience you are most grateful for in your priestly ministry? An experience that I am most grateful for in being a priest is the opportunity to bring others to Christ, particularly through the RCIA process, and witnessing the power of the spirit transforming lives when people return to their faith after a long period of isolation.

What has been the greatest challenge you have faced in serving? The greatest challenge I have faced in serving is being a witness to Jesus Christ in the present climate within our society, one which is not always receptive to The Gospel, in fact, in some instances, hostile. The values and moral basis of our society is shifting from one based primarily on Jewish/Christian values and principles, toward a society of relativism and individualism without a common value system. I find this both challenging and invigorating; as it is the challenge and responsibility of Evangelization.

How do you keep informed of current developments affecting the church and your parishioners? I keep informed of current developments affecting the church and my parishioners, primarily by attempting to keep informed through the news media and particularly through the R.I. Catholic and America magazine. Both of which are helpful in analyzing issues and social concerns with a Catholic perspective.

How do you keep your relationship with the Lord strong and continue to grow spiritually? I attempt to keep my relationship with the Lord strong and continue to grow spiritually primarily through daily prayer and spiritual reading. I find that with my schedule and demands that it is vital to make time early in the morning to do so. I look forward to my annual retreat, which is usually a silent directed retreat.

How do you stay connected with your brother priests? I stay connected with my brother priests primarily through my priest support group and priest friends. Relationships, both with laity and priests, is a vital and nurturing part of my life.

Do you have any special interests or hobbies that you enjoy? I like to read and exercise. I have always been a runner since high school. I also have a gym membership. I enjoy landscaping. It is relaxing and affords me the opportunity to be creative. I no longer own my own property, but I enjoy doing some of this on the church grounds.

What is the best way to encourage priestly vocations? How do you encourage priestly and religious vocations? The best way to encourage priestly vocations is by living my own vocation in a spirit of joy and reaching out to young people. People are attracted to positive energy and positive people. This is what initially drew me to the priesthood.