‘We’re brothers or priests 24 hours a day’

Catholic brother enjoys 40 years of service.

When he was in the sixth grade, Joseph Fisher was volunteering as an altar server at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Wapakoneta. He was invited to the annual Servers’ Picnic held at St. Charles Seminary in Carthagena, Ohio. Besides recreational baseball, swimming and fishing, there was a vocations tent set up in the grove. On a dare, young Joe filled out one of the cards.

On a late Saturday afternoon in the fall of that same year, he was helping plant clover on his family’s farm. Brother John Bruney arrived to talk to Joe and his parents about planting something else — the idea of a future vocation as a religious brother.

He must have been persuasive, because Brother Joseph’s 40th anniversary of religious service was celebrated this past June 30 in a special liturgy at the St. Charles Center in Carthagena.

That’s right, the same place where he first filled out that card.

St. Charles Seminary was changed to St. Charles Center in 1969. The liturgy also celebrated the religious anniversaries of 10 others serving in the Missionaries of the Precious Blood of the Cincinnati Province.

“It was wonderful; there were quite a few of us. One of the celebrants was 103, with more than 70 years of service,” said Brother Joseph, 67, who plans to continue working in the Provincial Office on East Second Street in Dayton.

A few years after that initial meeting on the farm, he enrolled at Brunnerdale, the Society’s high school seminary near Canton, Ohio. He earned an accounting degree at Saint Joseph’s College in Rensselaer, Indi. He was professed a brother in 1977 and later earned an MBA from the University of Dayton.

Brother Joseph served for 10 years as business manager at Brunnerdale. He was a member of the C.PP.S. Senate from 1978 to 1987. He was appointed provincial treasurer for the Missionaries of the Precious Blood in 1987. Since 1994, he has also served on the provincial council.

“We look to these priests and brothers who are celebrating their anniversaries this year as examples of those who have faithfully listened to God’s call,” said Father Larry Hemmelgarn, C.PP.S., provincial director. “They have said ‘yes’ to that call, and that in turn has led them to minister to the people of God in many ways, in many places. Their lives of service inspire us all.”

As a treasurer, the Dayton resident said that he doesn’t get to interact with people as often as he’d like, but he still has opportunities to offer spiritual guidance.

“Lots of times people will call you, or come up and talk to you,” said Brother Joseph. “We’re brothers or priests 24 hours a day.”

The Missionaries of the Precious Blood is a religious society of priests, brothers and lay associates founded in 1815 by St. Gaspar del Bufalo. Society members work as missionaries in parishes in the U.S. and abroad. By watching over the accounts, Brother Joseph is ensuring that funds will be available to take care of the needs of his brothers in community.

“There is a sense of fulfillment, that I’m working for something bigger. It’s definitely a good cause,” said Brother Joseph.

For the past seven years he’s been reporting to Father Hemmelgarn.

“You will not find anyone more dedicated than Brother Joe. He’s been at this job for many years and is very conscientious about his work,” said Father Hemmelgarn. “He’s also an avid gardner and loves to share his produce: tomatoes, lettuce and beans.”

He was taught well on that farm. He’s still sowing seeds of faith and charity.

Contact this contributing writer at PamDillon@woh.rr.com.

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