Father Joe didn’t want fuss, but funeral mass would have made him happy, Aide says

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For a long time, Father Joe Carroll did not want a funeral, fearing it would be a big deal.

But according to his former chief of staff, the “swindler priest” would have been pleased with the simplicity and attendance at his funeral mass on Tuesday at St. Rita Catholic Church in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of San Diego.

“We finally convinced him,” said assistant José González after the celebration of Carroll’s life. “He was very specific about the music, what he wanted to have.”

Two of Carroll’s chosen hymns were “Whatsoever You Do” with lyrics “whatever you do for the least of my people, you do to me”. And “They will know that we are Christians (by our love)” with the words “We will keep each other’s dignity and save each other’s pride.”

“He didn’t want anything fancy. He wanted him accessible to the people because he was a man of the people. He would have been very happy, ”said González, who was Carroll’s personal assistant and“ best friend ”until his death on July 11.

Carroll’s last act was to baptize González’s 2-month-old daughter, Cecilia, at his bedside. Gonzalez called the gesture “incredibly special”.

Carroll presided over the wedding of Gonzalez and his wife, Marybel in 2012.

And Auxiliary Bishop John Dolan, who delivered a eulogy, reported that Carroll then told González to remember his salary for services rendered.

Worshipers laughed, as Carroll was well known to be constantly on the lookout for donations for Father Joe’s villages, which he has gone from a $ 100,000 operation to $ 40 million today, Dolan said. before mass.

Carroll, the legendary San Diego priest who created a nationally recognized nonprofit to help the homeless, has died aged 80 after a battle with diabetes.

Born in New York, Carroll was President and CEO of the Village of Saint-Vincent-de-Paul from 1982 until his retirement in 2011. He was renamed Father Joe’s Villages in his honor in 2015.

His namesake organization has helped thousands of homeless residents find shelter, medical assistance, child care, housing and other resources since he took office nearly 40 years ago. years.

Dolan highlighted Carroll’s impact on the community, the city, the country and the world.

“At the end of the day, he wanted to be remembered as a good priest. These are the words Father Joe asked to be placed on his gravestone, ”Dolan told people who filled the 700 capacity church. Others gathered across the street in a parish hall with a screen.

Carroll’s siblings, nieces and nephews were on the front bench with about 50 priests at a church where Carroll was once associate pastor.

But during the eulogy, Dolan used additional adjectives for Carroll: outstanding, very dedicated, and holy.

The bishop described Carroll’s diocesan office as being cluttered with papers, post-it notes, calendar markers, cans of Diet Pepsi, and figurines.

His office was a reflection of a man who was always on the lookout, always creative and always scheming.

“His motto has always been: ask forgiveness rather than permission,” recalls Dolan.

Before mass, Dolan told the media a story to illustrate Carroll’s character:
“Father Joe was one of those characters who always had a television on, so he was always attentive to the news.”

He went on to say that Carroll saw a freeway blockage involving a Campbells Soup truck overturning its load of cans. Carroll quickly came up with a plan: He could use the soup to feed the homeless, recycle cans for funds, and hand over labels to get sports equipment for young people at his center.

“That’s the kind of person he was. He was an opportunist in many ways, ”the bishop said, adding that Carroll never wanted anyone“ to be sidelined or excluded ”.

Carroll has helped people of all faiths and those rejected in society, including homeless people with AIDS, he said.

Dolan said, “He fought the good fight for his neighbors. He did what he could do, and now it’s up to us to continue to make neighbors who help neighbors ”

When asked what he would take away the most from his years working with Carroll, Gonzalez said, “We all have our part to play. The purpose of his life and his example for me, as a mentor. , teacher and best friend, was to always be charitable and to give fully to everything that inspires you.

“The point is really to give yourself fully,” said González, Carroll’s executor. “If we all did this, this world would be a better and more together place. This is what his legacy will show.

After mass, González stood in front of the church, clutching the bag with Carroll’s cremated remains, as tears rolled down his cheeks.

Carroll’s remains were to be interred in Holy Cross Cemetery so that the people of San Diegan could come and pay their respects to him, he said.


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