Joe’s spiritual journey in ministry began in 1979 with his ordination to the Catholic diaconate in Belle River, Ontario, followed by his ordination to the priesthood in 1980 at St. Peter’s Basilica in London, Ontario.
In 1985, after prayerful reflection and spiritual counselling, he chose to leave the active priestly ministry due to irreconcilable doctrinal issues. After a number of years of rediscovering himself and, with an unquenchable thirst for serving people, he was blessed to be accepted into the ministry of Clergy Support Memorial Church.
Ministry of Outreach
“Through Clergy Support Memorial Church, I have been able to realize a calling of being a facilitator for disenfranchised persons searching for a meaningful and nourishing faith expression. Persons without a church identification, persons excluded from church membership by reason of marital status, persons refused church inclusion because of their sexual orientation, all have a right to gather and live their faith. This continues to be an essential aspect of my pastoral charge with Clergy Support Memorial Church. As Jesus says in Matthew’s gospel, “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.” This is the essence of “church”. Note: While my pastoral charge is not limited only to the disenfranchised, they are very much the largest segment of my ministry. I do, however, also have outreach to persons of established mainstream churches who for their own reasons seek out my ministry and guidance.”
Ministering to the LGBT Community
In addition, Joe has continued his specialized outreach to men and women of the local Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered community in the Windsor/Essex area. “They are a community who require a specialized form of understanding and ministry to help them reconcile their self-acceptance and religious identity against an unfortunate and regrettable history of intolerance and discrimination by so many institutional churches and faith doctrines.” Members of this community benefit from Joe’s pastoral charge through coming to experience a wholesome understanding of their intrinsic self-worth and goodness in the eyes of our all-loving and inclusive God.
Rainbow Ministry 🌈
In addition to his regular local ministry, Joe represents our national office in Ottawa in a new Canada wide outreach program to the LGBTQ+ community, called the Rainbow Ministry. This program will offer local specialized outreach to men and women of the local LGBTQ+ community, with Worship, Sacrament, Counselling, Visitation and Pastoral Care.
Justice Ministry – Refugee Claimants
Joe has also spent much of his time assisting refugee claimants and same-sex spouses seeking admission to Canada to lawfully reside with their partners. This outreach frequently extends beyond the practical into the spiritual – the imparting of faith, hope and charity to oftentimes frightened and apprehensive newcomers to Canada.
“One book in particular that I have read in the past year has strengthened my resolve in ministering to the LGBT community. It is “Ministering Graciously to the Gay and Lesbian Community: Learning to Relate and Understand”. It is an outstanding book with many helpful strategies and approaches to bring healing, reconciliation and the celebration of self-worth to the LGBT community.”
As former vice chair of the AIDS Committee of Windsor, Joe continues to devote time assisting this important organization with spiritual counselling sessions with men and women diagnosed as HIV positive or with AIDS.
Joe’s pastoral charge as a minister of Clergy Support Memorial Church has included:
- Worship – Proclaiming and Preaching the Good News at worship gatherings. He has been guest homilist at area Metropolitan Community Churches;
- Bereavement Ministry that includes ministering to individuals and their families at the time of a loved one’s impending death, and officiating eternal life funeral celebrations for the departed;
- Chaplaincy Ministry with regular visitation of the sick and infirm in nursing homes and hospitals. Joe visits with his greyhound dog, Victoria, who loves visiting the elderly as much as the residents enjoy her visit;
- Prison Visitation of the incarcerated in jail (on an ad hoc basis);
- Celebrating two baptisms with friends and their family;
- Preparing couples for the celebration of their marriage, and then officiating these celebrations of their love and faith. “Many of these couples have been same gender couples who have been shunned by many of the mainstream churches.”;
- Pastoral counselling sessions for members of the LGBT community;
- Leading scripture studies and prayer meetings for members of the LGBT community at University Place Chapel;
- Guest speaking appearances in schools and community groups regarding issues such bullying and intolerance;
- Providing support and guidance to some victims of clerical sexual abuse;
- Volunteer and fundraising work with Windsor’s Downtown Mission and the Windsor/Essex Hospice Village (ongoing);
- Organized gatherings with LGBT organizations and presented video-based presentations and discussions regarding a proper understanding of homosexuality and the Judea-Christian traditions;
- Liaising with other local faith communities in his area through ecumenical events.
“This past year has been an enriching spiritual journey for me – made possible through the pastoral charge God has blessed me with through Clergy Support Memorial Church. Without this church, the extent of my ministerial outreach would be severely limited. I am forever grateful that I have been allowed the privilege to exercise ministry in such a profoundly meaningful and effective way.”