Being there for parishioners

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For the past four years, Deacon Joseph Farrell has been studying for the priesthood at the Pontifical North American College (NAC) in Rome. But he's packing up his possessions and heading home to Virginia for his June 6 ordination.

Deacon Farrell was born Jan. 2, 1983, in Cape Cod, Mass., to Louis and Carolyn Farrell. He has a younger sister, Mary. His parents are lifelong Catholics, so weekly Mass for the family was expected.

His stay in Cape Cod was short. His father was in the U.S. Coast Guard, and the family moved around the country frequently. When he was 15, they moved to Virginia, where the family joined St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception Church in Fredericksburg.

He graduated from George Mason University in 2007 with a bachelor's degree in English literature. For several years, he worked at the Chief Executives Organization in Bethesda, Md., before discerning a vocation.

He enrolled in pre-theology at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood, Pa., and then moved to the NAC for the remainder of his seminary studies.

Along with 42 other seminarians from around the United States, he was ordained to the transitional diaconate last October at a ceremony at the Altar of the Chair of St. Peter in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. Washington Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl was the celebrant.

After diaconate ordination, Deacon Farrell worked with students from Christendom College in Front Royal who were studying in Rome.

Seminary studies in Rome had its benefits. Pope Francis came to the NAC May 2 to celebrate Mass for Blessed Junípero Serra, who will be canonized by the pope when he visits the United States in September. Deacon Farrell was there for the Mass.

Being thousands of miles from the site of his ordination presents some problems, but he's thankful that his parents have been able to take care of the routine elements of the event, invitations and celebratory dinner matters.

Deacon Farrell is thankful for the many priests who have encouraged and prayed for him during his discernment.

"The example of priests I have encountered throughout my life made the vocation appealing to me," he said. "Then, as I reached adulthood, this openness manifested itself in a concrete call to ordained ministry."

As his ordination nears he is excited about the prospect of serving in a parish.

"I look forward to (celebrating) Mass, hearing confessions, and being there for (parishioners)," he said. "

Borowski can be reached at or on Twitter @DBorowskiACH.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2015