Fr. Francis Hull retires

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After 55 years of priestly service that included pastoral duties and teaching, Josephite Father Francis M. Hull retired Sept. 28. He served as pastor of St. Joseph Church in Alexandria since 2002. Josephite Father Ugochukwu J. Cletus is the new parochial administrator of St. Joseph Church.

Father Hull was born Dec. 20, 1923, in Philadelphia and graduated from St. Thomas More High School. He served in the U.S. Army Air Corps in the South Pacific during World War II.

Father Hull said he became interested in the Josephites when he served in the Army and traveled through the Southern states and saw the poor treatment of black soldiers.

The Josephites were founded in Baltimore in 1893. Their mission is "to advance the teachings of the church in the African-American community."

He entered St. Joseph Seminary in Washington and was ordained at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in 1957.

Before becoming pastor of St. Joseph, Father Hull taught high school and college and served as rector of the Josephite St. Augustine High School in New Orleans. He served as pastor for parishes in New Orleans, Houston and Washington. He also served as editor of the Josephite Harvest for 14 years.

At 88 years old he was a vigorous pastor, but heart problems spurred his decision to retire. He made his plans for retirement known last March.

Father Hull had aortic bypass surgery Oct. 3.

"I didn't want the parish to worry about my recovery," Father Hull said about his retirement. "I loved St. Joseph (Church)."

Despite his recent surgery, he said he's feeling well and doctors are happy with his progress.

After his recovery, he'll help out at Masses when asked and admits that going from working as a priest for 55 years to retirement will take some getting used to.

"It's a change," said Father Hull. "But I welcome the vacation."

Beverly Anderson, director of religious education at St. Joseph, has worked with Father Hull for 10 years. She said that he has been active in the civil rights movement and has been an inspiration and champion for justice for years.

"He has dedicated his life to evangelizing African-Americans," said Anderson. "He will be missed."

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2012