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The IPF Priests of Saint Joseph formally became a public association of clergy in the Church on October 22, 2015, Saint John Paul II’s feast day. On that date, Archbishop George Lucas, Archbishop of Omaha, formally approved the statutes of the Association and designated Fr. Richard Gabuzda as the first Moderator. Members of the IPF Priests of Saint Joseph are diocesan priests who make a formal consecration through vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience, plus an additional vow of lifelong service to the spiritual lives of diocesan priests. Members live their consecration in either of two forms. Some members sense the call to dedicate themselves full-time to the mission of IPF and to serve permanently in Omaha on the IPF staff. These “internal members” live together in common life in Omaha in Nazareth House, where they share common prayer and fraternal life. Priests formalize their dedication to the association as internal members by officially joining the clergy of the Archdiocese of Omaha, under the supervision of the Archbishop where they will live out their priestly commitment for the rest of their lives. Other members perceive the call to remain in their diocese, while supporting the mission of IPF as their pastoral assignment allows. These “external members” intercede regularly for priests, remain available for brother priests as confessor or spiritual directors, and assist with IPF programs as their full-time pastoral assignment in their diocese permits. Those who have discerned this “call within a call” as diocesan priests are united through consecration and particular availability to their brother priests.
The IPF Priests of Saint Joseph has grown to eight members in various stages of affiliation. Fr. Rich Gabuzda and Fr. Jim Rafferty live as internal members in Omaha as incardinated priests of the Archdiocese of Omaha while serving in full-time ministry with the Institute for Priestly Formation.
Having completed a two-year period of formation, five priests have entered temporary profession. They profess vows on an annual basis, renewable for five years, at which time they may make permanent consecration as Priests of Saint Joseph. Fr. Andy Gehringer of the Diocese of Allentown, PA, serves as pastor at Holy Infancy Parish in Bethlehem, PA. He celebrates Mass each weekend in English, Spanish, and Portuguese. Fr. Nicholas Cachia of the Archdiocese of Malta is on the faculty of Saint Vincent de Paul Seminary in Boynton Beach, FL, where he teaches as serves on the formation team. Fr. Rob Cadrecha is a priest of the Diocese of St. Petersburg, FL, and shares his priestly ministry in Saint Jerome Parish in Largo, as well as helping with retreat spiritual direction. Fr. Josh Brown from the Diocese of Grand Island, NE, is pastor of Saint Patrick’s Church in North Platte, NE, and Fr. Jorge Garcia of the Diocese of San Bernardino, CA, oversees Saint Junipero Serra House of Formation. Please pray for the IPF Priests of Saint Joseph that the Father will guide us and protect us so that we may remain faithful to the call he has entrusted to us in imitation of Saint Joseph.
Recently, Fr. Jeff Eirvin of the Archdiocese of Portland, Oregon, was accepted as a candidate. Fr. Eirvin, who is Director of Vocations and President of the National Conference of Diocesan Vocation Directors, will spend two years in formation.
The icon of the Holy Family describes the qualities of this priestly vocation. This image of the Holy Family, written by Kiko Arguello for the Neo-catechumenal Way, is somewhat unusual in that Jesus is not a baby in Mary’s arms while Joseph stands by watchfully. Rather, in this depiction the Holy Family is traveling from Jerusalem to Nazareth after Jesus was separated from Mary and Joseph in the Temple at the age of twelve. Here, Mary carries a scroll containing the message of Isaiah (61), “The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good tidings to the afflicted,” which foreshadows Jesus’ future mission as Redeemer. As an adult at the start of his public ministry, Jesus will proclaim this same passage in the synagogue at Nazareth, and so in this scene the boy Jesus bows to Mary, as he reaches out to receive the scroll she bears, in anticipation of his mission.
Joseph carries Jesus on his shoulders as they journey home to Nazareth. As they walk, however, Joseph’s eyes are closed. Rapt in the beauty of the moment, Joseph contemplatively savors the marvelous grace to carry the Son of God. At the same time, Joseph moves in trusting dependence on the Father. In this way, Joseph epitomizes the “contemplative even in action.” Walking with closed eyes, Joseph is entirely handed over to the Father to guide and sustain him and his family. The light of grace from within, not Joseph’s own resources, will lead them safely home. In all of this Joseph shares Jesus’ delight to be so cared for, a father and son reveling in being together in a scene resplendent with tenderness and affection.
Though what passed between Joseph and Jesus remains in the mystical silence of the hidden years at Nazareth, Joseph, Father of the Interior Life, was given by God the Father to Jesus to form Jesus in the life of prayer in preparation for his future public ministry. Similarly, the IPF Priests of Saint Joseph serve Jesus in the hearts of priests and seminarians by accompanying them in hiddenness to foster their growth in the life of prayer so that they might be interiorly strengthened in their public ministry as priests of Jesus Christ. When the heart of the priest abides in intimate communion with the Trinity, then his ministry is anointed with greater fruitfulness.