Br Joseph Guyon, CO

Posted on Aug 23, 2011

Br Joseph Guyon, CO

I am helping to lead the baby boomer parade. I was born the first of six children in Brooklyn, NY in 1946. My father worked for Con Edison and my mother was a homemaker while we were growing up. Dad was Archie Bunker and Mom was Maude, so you can imagine some of the family dinner “discussions.” Of the six children, I am the only one who discovered there is a world outside of New York City.

Like the majority of Catholic children growing up in New York City in the 50s and 60s, I am a product of Catholic education. The School Sisters of Notre Dame staffed St. Anselm Grade School. The sisters introduced us to the Baltimore Catechism, a loving God and the importance of education. In high school and college, the Vincentians and the charism of St. Vincent de Paul influenced my life. Also in the parish was a group of sisters who wore funny hats instead of veils. The Missionary Servants of the Blessed Trinity made me realize the importance of the laity in the church. All during this time one thing was very clear: I did not want to be a priest.

My first job after school was with the Bank of Tokyo in New York. I did what many young people did at the time: worked all day, stayed out most of the night, and attended a protest or two from time to time. I moved to Bankers Trust in New York and worked in the Letter of Credit Department. While I enjoyed my career and social life, something was missing. Since I knew I did not want to be a priest, I tried to put the missing something on hold, but it would not go away. To try to bring closure to something I never opened, I went to have a chat with a parish priest.

Fr. Kenneth Caulder was one of the nine priests who staffed St. Patrick’s Parish in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. After a few visits, he helped me realize I might have a vocation, and I did not have to be a priest. He suggested I contact five religious congregations, request information and make a visit or two. I contacted the Franciscans, the Vincentians and two other congregations. Being a banker, I knew when someone said five, they meant five. While enduring a long homily in my local parish, I picked up a magazine and saw an ad for The Congregation of the Oratory in Rock Hill, SC. Piece of cake. Here is number five, and there is no way a Brooklyn boy would find himself in South Carolina unless he was driving to Florida. In addition, the only thing I knew about St. Philip Neri was it being a parish in the Bronx.

I received information for The Oratory and liked what I read. The charism of St. Philip Neri, the mission of the Congregation and remaining in one place appealed to me. Unfortunately, the place was South Carolina. After hashing it out with Fr. Caulder, I made a visit to Rock Hill. I returned to New York and after more discernment, I entered the Congregation of the Oratory in 1976 as a lay member.

During my time there, I hav ministered in various ways. I have been the Vocation Director, Development Director and worked with the Treasurer for the Congregation. In 1986, I returned to school and became a registered nurse. As a nurse, I am part of the healthcare team at Piedmont Medical Center. I have also ministered in a part-time capacity for Hospice and Community Care in Rock Hill.

In 1996, I assisted Marie Bott as she initiated the Oratory Parish Nurse Ministry. This ministry continues today with the help of Gina Misle, RN. I also volunteer at St. Anne’s School where I learn something new from the children on a weekly basis.

In the Gospel of St. John, the disciples ask Jesus where he lives. Jesus invites them to “Come and see.” The same invitation is extended to all of us. My invitation came through the people who have touched, and continue to touch my life — people within and outside of the Congregation.

As I grow older, I realize more and more that nothing is perfect. My life here at the Oratory has, and will continue to to have its joys and difficulties. However, most days I feel that I am where I am supposed to be, doing what I am supposed to be doing. Daily, Jesus continues to extend his invitation to “Come and see.”

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