Hello and welcome!
As regular readers will remember, around this time each year, I like to ask some of our newly ordained priests to share the story of their journey to the priesthood and their experience of beginning their new ministry. I always find that these guest posts are a wonderful way for our people to get to know our new priests and, hearing their story, hopefully inspire other young men to answer the call to the priesthood.
Well, as in so many cases these days, things are a bit different this year.
This year’s ordinandi have experienced a deacon year like none other. Not only has their ordination day been postponed until Aug. 1, but hey have found themselves serving in the parishes at a time when ministry has been especially challenging. So, I have asked two of our soon-to-be-ordained men to share, not only the story of their vocation but also their experience of this unique time.
We begin this week with Deacon Joseph Hubbard, who has served his deacon year at Our Lady Comforter of the Afflicted Parish in Waltham. Next week we will hear from Deacon Daniel Zinger.
Until next week,
As you might have guessed, the priesthood ordination was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. While I was very disappointed that the ordination had to be delayed, as the saying goes, the best things in life are worth waiting for, and becoming a priest is certainly worth the wait! I am very eager and excited to be ordained to the priesthood of Jesus Christ and to begin priestly ministry and will share with you some of the moments in my life that have led to this point.
I was born in April 1991, the eighth child in a family of 11 children, to John and Kathy Hubbard from South Weymouth, Massachusetts. On May 26, 1991, I was baptized in Sacred Heart Church in North Quincy by Father Neal Heery.
A family photo from my baptism with my godparents, my uncle Jerry and aunt Kathy
My parents when my father became a sergeant
My father is a retired Massachusetts State Trooper who served for 32 years, and my mother took care of all 11 of us kids and has worked at South Shore Hospital for the past 20 years. Their selfless generosity and dedication to serving others have always inspired me and, without a doubt, influenced my desire to be a priest.
As is the case with every vocation, the roots of my vocation began at home surrounded by my family, especially modeled by my parents, who have continuously offered an example of sacrificial love and care for others that follows the Gospel call to treat others as Christ. I am very grateful to have grown up in such a large family, and I am now able to share my diaconal (and soon priestly) ministry with them all. It has been a great gift to be able to baptize five of my seventeen nieces and nephews!
With my siblings after ordination to the diaconate
The whole family after diaconate ordination. Five more children have been born since then!
As you might imagine, I grew up in a very busy house, and we were blessed to live next door to my maternal grandparents. I often snuck over to visit with my grandmother as an escape from some of the commotion of my house. I’m glad I did because this enabled me to spend a lot of time with Grammie, a woman of deep faith who lived a very devout and simple life and who always found a way to bring God into daily life. She was a major influence on me, especially with regard to the faith, and she had a great love for the priesthood and priests. I believe she had a hunch that I would become a priest someday — which is probably why she encouraged me to practice “saying Mass” when I was very young.
My paternal grandmother, Nana Hubbard, was also a woman of profound faith. She had nine sons and always found a way to help others. Though she had poor health in her later years, her life has always been an inspiration to me. It is so important for grandparents and other relatives to share their life of faith with younger generations as they can help to form them in ways that no one else can. I am so grateful for all of my family, but especially for me grandmothers, without whom I would not be where I am today – about to become a priest of Jesus Christ.
I attended St. Francis Xavier School through fourth grade and then went to public schools in Weymouth. I graduated from Weymouth High School in 2009, and then attended The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., where I studied history and was very involved in campus life, particularly with Campus Ministry sponsored mission trips, the student fee board, and the campus-based Knights of Columbus council, where I served as Grand Knight during my senior year. I also spent one summer interning in the U.S. Senate in Senator Scott Brown’s office. This experience was very formative for me, as I was able to see up close and personal the way that government operates. I also have a great love for history and enjoyed giving tours to guests of the United States Capitol. I have always been captured by the beautiful architecture of Washington, D.C., so giving tours of the Capitol building was my favorite part of the internship!
A photo with Sen. Scott Brown, and testing my public speaking skills at a Senate podium
While at Catholic University, I deepened my understanding of, and love for, the Catholic faith through academic courses, personal prayer and the comradery of being with other young people who practiced their faith, as well. When sharing my vocation story, I often say that it was at this time that I took the faith that I learned at home and began to make it my own, and I felt that it was no longer just something my family believed and practiced, but that I wanted to take seriously, as well. My involvement with the Knights of Columbus helped this greatly, and it is a great joy to have several peers from the campus council who have been ordained priests or are in priestly formation — in fact, there are 15 fellow Knights from my time at CUA who have been or will soon be ordained. Several of us remain very close friends and share a common mentor, Father Frank Donio, SAC, who helped us all to see God’s call in our lives.
Here I am with fellow Knights, Father Andrew St. Hilaire, Father Frank Donio, SAC, Father Brett Garland, and Deacon Alex Boucher who will be ordained in August for the Diocese of Portland, Maine, and is also a classmate at St. John’s Seminary
Looking back, I can see that it would make sense for me to discern a call to the priesthood, but I did not really want to take that step. Instead, I wanted to start a career and a family. However, God had other plans in store. One day, I attended a daily Mass at the Pastoral Center with my mom, and after Mass, we were talking to the priest. He very firmly asked me, “Did you ever think that God is calling you to be a priest, that God wants you to be a priest?” I did not like this question, because I had indeed thought that, but I never wanted to do it! However, when he asked me in this way, I felt for the first time that God really did have this plan for me and that it wasn’t all about my desires or plans, but about God’s plan and His desires for my life. It was abundantly clear to me that my happiness rested in following His plan, and so that simple question began a period of discernment and prayer about entering seminary, which I did in August 2014.
Since 2014, I have been studying as a seminarian at St. John’s Seminary in Brighton. This experience has been a time of deepened prayer and study so as to be formed into a priest. One of the greatest parts of seminary for me has been forming great friendships with my brother seminarians. These men are all on the same journey as me — learning how to become priests of Jesus Christ — and walking with them has been a great privilege. Seminary formation can be challenging, but it is also a great blessing to have these years of formation learning theology and learning how to be a priest. I am very grateful for my formation at St. John’s Seminary and especially appreciate the friendships I made during these years, which will help me be a better priest.
On June 8, 2019, I was ordained a deacon by Cardinal Seán at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross. This was a joy-filled day for me and my family as I made one final step towards becoming a priest. The next day, I offered my first homily and served as deacon for the first time at St. Francis Xavier Parish in Weymouth.
I have thoroughly enjoyed diaconal ministry, particularly at my assignment at Our Lady Comforter of the Afflicted Parish in Waltham. I have been assigned there since 2018 and have been there full time since the coronavirus pandemic began in March. While serving as a deacon at this parish, I have been able to baptize over 30 children, which has been a great blessing, and also have been able to preach frequently.
Since the pandemic began, we have remained very active as a parish. We began live-streaming Sunday Mass early on, and also provided other virtual talks and times of prayer for our parishioners. We have been able to keep the church open every day from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. since March, with professional cleaning each day, and we have had Eucharistic Adoration during much of that time. Also, there have been outdoor confessions every Saturday since April. Once we were able to return to the public celebration of the Mass, we began having outdoor Mass every Sunday, and this has been a great success for the past eight weeks. We have also had outdoor adoration services and other events as well. Throughout the pandemic, we focused on finding ways to bring God into the lives and homes of our parishioners at a time when we all recognized a greater need to depend on and trust in God. By having the church open safely as a place of prayer and through our virtual ministry, we were able to keep in touch with our parishioners and help them to know that we were with them, and more importantly, that God was with them.
I have learned so much from Father Jim DiPerri, Father Bill English, who is in residence, and the parochial vicar Father Francis Pham. These three priests have each offered their example of priestly ministry and service to me, and I am forever grateful to them. Father English is celebrating his 60th anniversary of ordination this year, and he has been a great source of wisdom for me.
These past few months have been difficult for everyone, and there isn’t some aspect of our society that hasn’t been affected by the pandemic. For me, it has been difficult having to wait a few more months for priestly ordination. My childhood pastor, Father Eugene Sullivan, wrote me a note in which he encouraged me to look to our Blessed Mother for inspiration at this time. As he pointed out, Mary went through many periods of waiting in her life — waiting for God’s plan for her life and His plan for salvation to unfold. This current time of waiting, though a challenge, has also been a great blessing for me because I have been able to see the Holy Spirit at work right before my eyes. These past years at St. John’s and these more recent months at Our Lady’s Parish have made me well prepared to begin life as a priest.
I continue to await the day of my ordination, which is sure to be a day of great rejoicing. As I look back on my life thus far, it is so very clear to me that God does want me to be a priest, and I am so very grateful for all of the people he has put in my life to help me get to this point. I am struck with a sense of gratitude for all the blessings that I have received and humility for the great gift, which I anticipate receiving on Aug. 1, when I will become a priest of Jesus Christ forever!
Please pray for my classmates and me as we make final preparations for ordination, and if you are able, join us in prayer by watching the ordination on CatholicTV. God bless you all!