Chaplain has an ecumenical heart
Legatus’ Manhattan chaplain has a special heart for the Anglican community. . .
Father Joseph Wilson
Even though he doesn’t have a business background, Fr. Joseph Wilson feels completely at home when rubbing elbows with some of Manhattan’s top CEOs. The New York native was ordained for the Brooklyn diocese in 1986 and now serves as curator at St. Margaret’s Parish in his home borough of Queens. He’s known for preaching missions and retreats — including some for non-Catholic organizations. He has a special heart for the Anglican community, which has recently expressed a strong desire to return to the Catholic Church.
Tell me about your call to the priesthood.
My parents were both teachers, as was my grandmother. There were four children in the family. We all felt called to some form of service. Both of my sisters were nurses, and my brother was a teacher. I felt called to do a number of things. Teaching was very attractive, but I had been around priests since I was very young. I served Mass, sang in the choir, and became sacristan.
How did you get involved with Legatus?
Father George Rutler was the chapter’s chaplain and the international chaplain at the time. He contact Bishop Dailey [of the Brooklyn diocese] and said, “I could use an assistant chaplain of Manhattan.” The bishop gave him my name. I first served as Fr. Rutler’s assistant for Manhattan, and then became the chaplain for a three-year term. That was around 1995, so I’m now in my fifteenth year of a three-year term!
How has your chaplaincy impacted you?
It’s been a wonderful thing. Wherever you are in the Church — whether you’re in parish life or chaplain of a group — the most rewarding thing is dealing with the faithful. And Legatus people are the most wonderful people — whether I’m with the folks in my own chapter or with other chapters.
When I was first asked to do this, I didn’t know what on earth it could possibly involve. All I heard was that I was going to be chaplain of an organization of CEOs. I had no idea what they would be like. But I found that they were very much like the down-to-earth, good, solid, faithful Catholics that I had always worked with in my parish. Legatus is very much like an extended parish.
Tell me about your ecumenical outreach.
I’ve had a pretty expansive ministry of preaching missions and 48- hour devotions for parishes and for religious communities. I have an ecumenical ministry as well. In fact, some of my retreats and missions have been for non-Catholic groups. I was the founding chaplain of the Anglican Youth Society, and I have always kept up that interest as well, assisting people who were looking to become Catholics.
Many faithful members of the Anglican Church were always drawn to the full community of the Church. I’ve found it very rewarding to be of as much assistance to people like that as I could — and to help them to witness to the fullness of Catholic unity as they’re helping others to come into the Church.
The Holy Father has responded to Anglicans’ interest in entering the Church, so this is an exciting time for that kind of outreach.
Very much so. It’s rooted in the Second Vatican Council. The Council Fathers said that in the communities of our separated brethren, there are worthy elements of their patrimony of piety that will find a home in the future Church. The one community that was singled out for particular mention was the Anglican community. So there’s a special relationship there. It has been a very rewarding thing for me.