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Religious order with mission to serve African-Americans loses two priests to coronavirus


The Society of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart

John Burger - published on 06/03/20 - updated on 06/03/20

Losses came in wake of another longtime priest who died of natural causes.

Two members of a Catholic religious order whose mission is to serve the African-American community died recently of COVID-19.

The Society of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart, commonly known as the Josephites, announced May 31 the deaths of Frs. Frank Martin Hull and Joseph John McKinley, who lived at the Josephite Senior Residence in Washington, D.C. One week earlier, another longtime Josephite priest who lived there, Fr. Jeremiah Dermot Brady, died at the age of 96.

Josephite Fr. Paul Oberg, the rector of the order’s retirement residence in Washington, confirmed to Catholic News Service that Frs. Hull and McKinley, who had underlying health issues, died from COVID-19.

“The two priests died within hours of each other — Father Hull on May 26 at the age of 96, and Father Hull on May 27 at the age of 83,” CNS reported. “The rector said Fr. Brady died of old age on May 20. The rector said another retired Josephite priest who had been living at the residence was diagnosed with COVID-19 and was in the hospital and recovering.”

Bishop John Ricard, the Josephites’ superior general, issued a statement saying, “For over a century, the Society of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart has dedicated itself toward the needs of African Americans, especially to those of the spirit and the soul, deeply wounded by racism and racial prejudice and to shoulder with them in procuring justice and solidarity and will continue to do so until this land lives up its creed that all are created free.”

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