Fr Joseph Pearce, CO

Posted on Aug 23, 2011

Fr Joseph Pearce, CO

Father Joe was born on April 24, 1957 in Queens, NY. He has two brothers and two sisters. He joined the Rock Hill Oratory in 1996. Bishop David B. Thompson ordained him a priest on July 24, 1999.

His first priestly assignment was parochial vicar at St. Philip Neri, where he had served as a deacon. He went on to serve at Divine Saviour in York and All Saints in Lake Wylie.

Father Joe serves presently as a weekend supply priest (i.e., replacing Oratorians on vacations, assisting throughout the diocese where a parish priest needs a break.)

Within The Oratory he serves as Director of Formation, overseeing the formation of seminarians. He also is the Director of the Propagation of the Faith going on fund-raising trips for The Oratory. He is Oratorian Archivist as well.

I entered the Franciscans of the Third Order of Regular of St. Francis of Assisi (TORs) in Oreto, PA in the fall of 1982. I thought I wanted to be a priest and a teacher. During my postulancy, I was exposed to a social justice ministry and I decided teaching was not my calling, instead I decided to become a missionary. After prayer and discernment, I decided to leave the TORs to pursue my dream of becoming a missionary priest.

I entered the Catholic Foreign Missionary Society of America (Maryknoll) on the Feast of the Assumption of Mary in 1990. The first year was devoted to learning the history of Maryknoll. Then it was off to the Catholic Theological Union (CTU) to study for the priesthood. CTU was a challenging experience for me. I was living and studying in a cross cultural environment and was assigned to the Catholic Chinese Mission as a seminarian. I made friends with several of the Chinese families and their children, two years of academic studies, and was sent on a three-year overseas training assignment. I was assigned to Taiwan, my first choice.

In Taiwan, I lived and studied Mandarin Chinese with the Society Divine Word Missionaries at their language school. The studies proved to be extremely difficult. While I was adept at writing the Chinese characters and showed promise reading Chinese, speaking Chinese proved very difficult for me, for I would constantly confuse and mispronounce the tones. Maryknoll officials in Taiwan determined that I would not be able to overcome this weakness; so, after one year of Chinese study, I returned to Maryknoll, NY. It was believed that the struggles that I had with the Chinese language would probably occur in other languages, so I asked to leave the society.

After leaving Maryknoll, I was not even sure if I wanted to pursue being a priest. I had spent six years with two different communities and was not yet ordained. I returned to CTU to complete my studies and to discern what to do.

At CTU, I received encouragement from my professors and fellow students to continue my pursuit of the priesthood. In June 1994, I graduated with a Master’s Degree in Divinity. My discernment process focused on the Dominicans, Glenmary, the Congregation of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri, and my home diocese of Trenton, NJ. After a year of prayer and discernment, I entered the Congregation of the Oratory of St. PHilip Neri.

On May 22, 1996, I began the novitiate. It was devoted to learning about St. Philip Neri, the founder of the Oratory, the history of the Oratory worldwide, and especially the history of the Rock Hill Oratory. Most importantly, I learned what it meant to be an Oratorian. After the novitiate ended, I returned to CTU to complete my Masters Degree in Liturgy. When I returned to the Oratory, I was assigned to a six-month internship at St. Anne’s Parish in Rock Hill. I was ordained to the diaconate on Mary 24, 1999 and assigned to St. Philip Neri Parish in Fort Mill. After a three-month diaconate assignment, I was ordained a priest on July 24, 1999 and assigned to St. Philip Neri Parish as part-time Parochial Vicar with duties at the Oratorian parishes. St. Philip Neri Parish was a wonderful assignment. as Father John Giuliani was an excellent mentor. The people of St. Philip Neri opened the hearts and homes to me. They were patient with me and allowed me to grow into my priesthood. I will always be grateful to them.

On July 1, 2004 I became pastor of Divine Savior Church (York) and All Saints Catholic Mission (Lake Wylie), which was still in the process of building its worship center. It is a challenge to build a church, but it was worth the hard work to see the excitement of the People of God grow along with the building.



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