A Letter from Our New Pastor

Posted On: Saturday, July 17, 2:52 pm

To my new Family of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church,

If you want to know more about me as a priest and person, you have to understand this one thing: I believe that the parish is THE SCHOOL OF PRAYER. I want said of every parish that I have the care of, “When I go to that parish for Sunday Mass, I can feel that the people of that parish really pray.”

The parish is THE school of prayer; the pastor is the teacher; and the encounter between God and man – prayer – is the subject taught. It is a vision that I have received from countless priests whom I have encountered and believe to have true priestly hearts after the Heart of Jesus. 

Pope Saint John Paul II said, “Our Christian communities must become genuine ‘schools’ of prayer, where the meeting with Christ is expressed not just in imploring help but also in thanksgiving, praise, Adoration, contemplation, listening and ardent devotion, until the heart truly falls in love.” 

Pope Benedict XVI sets forth the encouragement for pastors with these words, “Your first duty as pastors is not projects or organization, but to lead your people to a deep intimacy with the Trinity. The faithful only expect one thing from their priests: that they be the specialists in promoting the encounter between God and man. The priest is not asked to be an expert in economics, construction, or politics. He is expected to be an expert in the spiritual life.” 

You will also learn that my vision and philosophy for parish life revolves around the acronym R-I-M. That stands for Relationship, Identity and Mission. First, how does the parish foster the relationship between Jesus and the individual parishioner? Second, does that relationship foster a person’s identity as being a beloved son or daughter of God? Third, how does (the parish activity, school, organization) relate to the overall mission of evangelization and our call to be saints through discipleship? 

My philosophy on handling problems and issues that arise in parish life comes from my background as a respiratory therapist. I have literally held many lives in my hands from newborn infants to the very elderly and dying. The most important life is the one that I hold in my hands; that’s yours. As a pastor, I am responsible for your eternal life. There is not one thing that we can’t work through, as along as we are both ready to accept and live the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The truth of the Gospel is the light to shine on every situation that might arise in the future. 

I strongly believe in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Confession is THE opportunity to begin again as many times as necessary in this life. There is nothing that cannot be solved by a good examination of conscience, an act of contrition, penance and absolution. I know this to be true because it is the formula I rely upon to keep me on the path to sainthood. Once you begin to know me personally, you will realize I take great comfort in the Sacrament of Reconciliation; not only will I offer it regularly as a priest, but I also take advantage of it regularly as a sinner. 

I love being invited out to dinner and to family homes. I enjoy getting to know families on a more personal level, and that is going to be a challenge with almost 2800 families in OLPH. I enjoy hunting, especially upland game bird hunting like pheasant and grouse. I play golf, fish and enjoy the regular bourbon and cigar. I have a dog named Finbar. It is an unusual name, but Saint Finbar was the monk who founded the monastery that became Cork, Ireland. He is a mix between a Great Dane and Airedale Terrier.

I am the oldest of five children of Dr. Harry and Mary Lynne Yokum. I grew up in London, Ohio, and I attended St. Patrick Church and grade school. I attended London High School and then off to The Ohio State University. My seminary studies were completed at the Josephinum and Mount Saint Mary’s in Emmitsburg, Maryland. I was ordained in 2007 by Bishop Campbell. My first assignment was at St. Andrew with Fr. Watson. In 2009, I was named pastor of St. Monica and St. Peter in Chains in Scioto County. Over the past 12 years, I have served as the pastor of nine parishes and three schools over Scioto and Jackson counties. 

“The dignity of man rests, above all, on the fact that he is called to communion with God.” (Fr. Scott Traynor, JCL) God has called us into communion with each other in this parish of Our Lady as pastor and flock. Please pray for me that I may always be a priest of true prayer and witness to the mysteries of Christ in the way that I administer the parish, pray and celebrate the sacraments; and may you always be a flock ready to respond to the grace that is being afforded through the Mystical Body of Christ, the Church, through the dignified celebration of the Sacramental Life. 

Fr. Joe