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Father Joe Carey to resign

Megan O'Neil | Monday, April 25, 2005

Father Joe Carey, the priest responsible for the sacramental and liturgical ministries at Saint Mary’s, said in an interview Friday he will not return to the College in the fall. Carey has worked at Saint Mary’s in Campus Ministry organizing, among other things, Bible studies and Eucharistic minister training sessions since 2000 and serves as the campus ministry liaison to Holy Cross and Annunciata Hall. He also celebrates nearly all of the Masses on campus, both in the residence halls and in the Church of Loretto. Carey said the decision to leave the College was extremely difficult, and was made after months of thought and prayer. He initially resisted the idea, he said, but he could no longer deny what he felt he was called to do. “When I first started I thought it was my dream job, I thought I would stay here 10 years,” Carey said. “But in about the last year I began thinking how I missed working with my community and really had a sense of wanting to go home.”Home for Carey is just across the street. He graduated as an accounting major from Notre Dame in 1962 and entered Moreau Seminary shortly thereafter. Later, he served as an assistant rector of Dillon Hall for eight years and then as the rector for 12 years. His new position there will be as a career counselor in the Career Center.Carey described his experience at Saint Mary’s as “joyful” and said he was initially drawn to the College by its intimate size and the friendliness of the people. “I saw it as an opportunity to work with college students, with college women,” Carey said. “I really liked the atmosphere and the people I would be working with.”He learned quickly that ministering to women would be an abrupt change from his previous position. Funny anecdotes that might work with the men of Dillon Hall did not have the same effect on the women of Saint Mary’s. He also had to adjust to being one of just a few men in a predominantly female environment. “In the beginning I would go into a meeting and immediately I would notice that I was the only male there,” Carey said. “Now I don’t even notice. I am pretty used to it.”In his time at Saint Mary’s, Carey said, he came to learn what exactly the phrase ‘the spirit of Saint Mary’s’ signifies.”I’ve learned a lot from the women of Saint Mary’s,” Carey said. “I learned how to listen, I’ve learned how to appreciate art and talents and gifts. [The students] have taught me the gift of hospitality, the gift of making others feel welcome.”His experiences on campus were not limited to the Campus Ministry offices or to the various chapels on campus, Carey said. He strove to integrate himself with the student body regularly attending events such as soccer games, theater performances and just last week, a Saint Mary’s team Bookstore Basketball game. “One of Father Joe’s greatest contributions was his interest in students and their faith life,” said Judith Fean, director of Campus Ministry. “It was not uncommon to find Father Joe at athletic events, flipping pancakes at the Late Night Breakfast or at the registration tables at Midnight Madness, only to find him later presiding at one of the many masses on campus. Father Joe knows students by name and greatly cares about what is going on in their lives. He will be greatly missed by all.” Carey even took it upon himself to learn about student fads. He created a Facebook profile for himself and took recommendations on movies to watch. “I’ve been introduced to Napoleon Dynamite,” Carey said. “When I first saw the movie I thought it was the dumbest thing I had ever seen.”Carey said he watched it again with a group of students, and realized what made it so funny was their familiarity with the lines and their reactions to particular scenes.One of his favorite parts of his job, Carey said, what meeting with groups of students Monday nights for Bible study sessions called “Breaking Open the Word.” It was during those sessions, he said, that he really was able to hear students’ stories and learn to see things from their perspectives. “I’ve learned through the community how to preach,” Carey said. Carey said he was also proud of the work he had done with students and leadership development. This included teaching women at the College how to be Eucharistic ministers, how to lead prayers services and how to preach. “I remember the first time I had worked with a student on how to preach and the first time a student was going to preach at a reconciliation service,” Carey said. “I was more nervous than in my entire life. I wanted her to do really well, and she did.”His time at Saint Mary’s has had an impact on his perspective on women and their role in the Church. Women, Carey said, can fill a wide variety of roles both in the liturgy and in the Church structure. “All of this leads me to see that the Church needs to be much more inclusive,” Carey said.Carey said he has also come to appreciate how well students at the College relate to others, how much joy they garner from one another. “When people say to me ‘How are the girls at Saint Mary’s?’ my immediate response is ‘We refer to them as ‘women,”” Carey said.