Beloved Pastor of St. Elizabeth Seton Church in Ridgefield to Retire - He Shares Fond Memories, Stories, and Jokes (We Had To Ask)

After a quarter-century as pastor of St. Elizabeth Seton Church in Ridgefield and fifty years in the priesthood, Father Joseph Prince will retire from his position on December 31, 2021. The community is invited to celebrate Father Prince this Sunday, October 24 at Jubilee Ordination Anniversary event beginning with a Mass at 11:30 am followed by a reception downstairs in McKeon Hall.

All are welcome! If you would like to attend, please RSVP to  Mia Belanger via email or by calling 203-730-6660.

Here, we ask Father Prince about his role as pastor, his fondest memories, heartwarming stories, and of course, his beloved jokes. 

Fifty years in the priesthood!  Tell me about how and why you decided to enter religious life?

When I was a teen, I felt God’s gentle nudge toward priesthood but didn’t pay much attention.  We had many priests in the family (From both sides) and that was an incentive to look into the priesthood.  It was my mother, and especially my maternal grandfather who really encouraged me to take a serious look at priesthood if I was interested.  (My father passed away when I was ten-years-old.)  I did go into the seminary at a young age, and I had doubts and reservations about priesthood.  Finally, with the help of God at age 22,  I decided that this was what God was calling me to do for the rest of my life.

First community you served as a priest?

St. Michael’s Cathedral in the diocese of Coimbatore in India.

Twenty-five years at the helm of St. Elizabeth Seton…. fondest memories?  

There are so many! Building a faith community that is vibrant, welcoming, reaching out to those in need both in the parish and outside of the parish.  Celebrating the sacraments for the kids and adults and being part of the families’ happy times and sad times.  In short, being present in every way to my people.

Any heartwarming story you can share about your time at St. Elizabeth Seton?

Just celebrated the wedding of my parishioner, Allison McCarthy.  She sent me an email telling me that I baptized her, she celebrated the Sacrament of Reconciliation with me, she received the Holy Eucharist from me.  And due to an unusual circumstance, I had the privilege of confirming her.  She wanted to make sure that I presided over the Sacrament of Matrimony for her.  This happened for the first time in my ministry.  That is a blessing!

Biggest challenge?

COVID- 19 and the disruption it has caused in the parish life. Now the challenge to rebuild!

Where God is calling you next?

Looking for a good, relaxed retirement but also for the best opportunity to do pastoral ministry without any administrative responsibility.

Ok, let's talk about the JOKES you tell prior to each homily

Most often I use all these devices to get people’s attention before I delve into something more profound.  I have collected these for the last 50 years from many sources. 

For the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time, the Gospel was about fidelity in marriage, divorce that was allowed in Jesus’ time.  I used two stories or jokes:

A woman who was married for over thirty years was sipping on a glass of wine while sitting on the patio with her husband and she says, “I love you so much, I don’t know how I could ever live without you.”  Her husband asks, “Is that you, or the wine talking?”  She replies, “It’s me …. Talking to the wine.”

Anything you wish I asked?

Please ask our parishioners what we have accomplished TOGETHER as a community.

Thank you, Father Prince, for your service to the community of Ridgefield. 


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