Father Joe Aquino’s path to the priesthood began with a fight with his mom.
The Italian-speaking mother of six wanted to visit the nearby National Shrine of our Lady of La Salette and told her youngest, the then-15-year-old Joseph, he was coming to translate for her.
“I didn’t want to go but she needed someone to help her,” he said of his mother. “She ordered me to go.”
By the fall, he was enrolled in the high school seminary (where he would meet future coworker Tom Reilly) on his way to Holy Orders.
Father Joe started his career in youth ministry, a niche that sent him to Rome, where he spent three years and met his extended family. The Boston native returned to America to find his fellow clergy struggling to implement Vatican II.
“Vatican II called for collaborative ministry, working with the laypeople and not having the priests do everything,” said Father Joe, who enjoys reading mysteries in his spare time. “I enjoyed helping people recognize their gifts.”
In a career that took him to parishes from Connecticut to Louisiana, Father Joe found a special connection to ministry life at St. Ann. He has found particular fulfillment in RCIA, working with people who want to join the Catholic Church.
“I enjoy the new people and being able to teach and help them understand the Catholic faith,” he said.
RCIA coordinator Ann Marie Martin said he has been instrumental to the program: “Father Joe has been the face of warmth, wisdom and welcome to all.”
pictured: Carmine, Joe and Maryann Aquino on ordination day in 1969.