REVEREND MR. PETER P. JOSEPH
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WATERVILLE - Reverend Mr. Peter P. Joseph, aka "Deacon Peter," was granted his final wish on Monday, Dec. 8, 2014, when Our Lord took him home to be reunited with his beloved wife and sweetheart, Pat.
Peter was born and raised in Waterville, the youngest of seven children of John R. and Lena (Ferris) Joseph. As a young boy, Peter helped his father lay the foundation of St. Joseph Maronite Church, the church in which he spent his life serving, as an altar boy, parishioner, lector, council member, Sub-Deacon and Deacon to name a few. It remains the only Maronite church in the state of Maine.
He attended Waterville schools, graduating from Waterville High School in 1941, then entered military service during World War II, serving in five major campaigns with the Third Army in Europe under General George S. Patton. His many experiences with Gen. Patton have been chronicled in two published literary works, and for 22 years Peter coordinated the Annual WWII U.S. 3rd Army Reunion for the Company B 503rd MP Btn. It was there that he met General Patton's granddaughter, Mother Margaret Georgina Patton and the other caring and pious nuns of the Abbey of Regina Laudis.
Peter returned to Maine at war's end and became co-owner of the store founded by their father, Joseph's Market on Front St. in Waterville, with his brother, Roy, after the death of their older brother, John, who had been operating the store while his younger siblings were overseas.
Peter's dream to marry his sweetheart, Patricia (Brackett), came true on Sept. 15, 1946, in a double ceremony with brother Roy and his fiancée, Elaine, Their loving marriage lasted nearly 60 years in this life until her death in 2006, but their love now lives on forever in the next. His only condition for marriage was that she love the music of Benny Goodman as much as he did, a condition Pat was happy to accept. His love of Benny Goodman and the swing bands of the 40s spanned his entire life, and he was one of his treasured cousin Al Corey's biggest fans.
Together Peter and Pat raised six children, Jeff (Debbie), Dianne (Frank), Lea (Brent), Laurie (Paul), Mary (Nancy) and Peter (Jill), who carry on their legacy of love in their children, Daemeon, Karyn, Andrea & Ebony; Leila and Christian; Brea, Luke and Lacey; DJ and Wendy, great-grandchildren, great-great-grandchildren and many grandpets.
While working and raising his family, Peter began his lifetime of service with his membership in the Waterville Lion's Club, which continued for 50 years and included the District's Lions President Award in 1964 as well as numerous awards for dedicated service, and as a 4th Degree Knight in the Knights of Columbus which continued for 58 years.
Peter was an active member and past-president of the Greater Waterville Interfaith Council for 20 years. He served as coordinator of Interfaith Clergy which became the Interfaith Council. He was one of the four founding fathers of the Interfaith Homeless Shelter in Waterville, now known as the Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter.
After serving as a sub-Deacon at St Joseph Maronite Church for several years, Peter answered the ultimate call to service, that of Deacon, and on May 25, 1986, became the First Permanent Deacon of the Catholic Church to be ordained in Maine. As a Deacon with bi-ritual faculties, ordained to serve in both Eastern and Latin rites of the Catholic Church, Deacon Peter participated in thousands of liturgies in Maine as well as many other states across the country, reading the Gospel, preaching the word of God and giving communion to the faithful.
In his capacity as Deacon, he also visited and brought the Eucharist to the infirmed, and worked as per diem chaplain for MaineGeneral Health Center in Waterville for 23 years. He visited residents at local nursing homes as well, celebrated a weekly Communion Prayer service at the Oak Grove facility, and counseled bereaved families as well as terminal patients and their families. Deacon Peter was the recipient of an Award from MaineGeneral Medical Center's Pastoral Care Dept. for 15 years of dedication and loyal service as well as the 2002 Recipient of the Immaculate Conception Award from Bishop Joseph Gerry of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland for his extraordinary dedication to Pastoral Care ministry at MaineGeneral Medical Center. He was twice chosen by Bishops of the Diocese of Portland to process with oils at the Holy Week Chrism Mass, first in 2001 and again in 2005.
As he often stated, Peter was "a Waterville man" and dedicated himself to serving the Greater Waterville community in many capacities. Some of the ways in which he accomplished this, as well as a few of the recognitions he received follow:
Served on the Board of Directors of Federal Trust Company and also served as a member of the Bank's Regional Advisory Board after it merged with Merrill Bank, and then Fleet Bank of Maine, for a total of 17 years.
Charter member of the Waterville Safety Council from 1976 to 2013; Chairman from 1980 to 2013 when Safety Council was dissolved, then was subsequently appointed the first Safety Liason between citizens of Waterville and City of Waterville due to his knowledge of the city and his experience on the Safety Council.
Member and past-president of St. Joseph Maronite Church Council.
Director of Religious Education at St. Joseph Maronite Church from 1965 to 1975.
President of the Greater Waterville Religious Education Board from 1967 to 1972.
Member and past chairman of the Liturgy Committee at St. Joseph Maronite Church.
Recipient of testimonial dinner by St. Joseph Maronite Church for dedicated service to the parish, 1976.
Member of Lebanon Youth Society for over 50 years.
Served on Board of Directors for Mount St. Joseph Nursing Home.
President of Associated Grocers of Maine for three years; Chairman of its Board of Directors for three years; Recognized by the Board for 15 years of dedicated service as Director and Officer, June 20, 1984.
Recipient of the Citizen of the Year Award by the Waterville Elks Club, 2001-2002.
Recipient of the Waterville Chamber of Commerce Community Service Award, 2003.
Recipient of the Waterville Rotary Club Paul Harris Fellow Award, 2004.
Peter was predeceased by his beloved wife, Pat; his parents; six siblings; and many other family members and friends whom he greatly missed. In addition to his immediate family, Peter is survived by loving nephews, Herbert Joseph Sr., Daniel, Glen, and Kevin Joseph and Darrell Mitchell, niece Jeanne Joseph Cook; and several cousins; great-nieces and great-nephews. He also leaves behind his "brothers," Deacon Rod Berger and Reverend Bert Brewster; as well as his dear and long-time friends, Father Jim Roy and Pastor 'Aboona' Larry Jensen for their years of friendship, respect, humor and spirituality towards dad and our whole family. Peter will also be missed by his many classmates, friends and army buddies with whom he shared many memories.
The family would like to thank the staff of Dr. David Preston and his nurse, our special friend, Debbie, Mainely Elder Care, Mount St. Joseph, and in particular, the loving staff of MaineGeneral Medical Center and Hospice, for their tremendous support and care. We especially wish to thank two special angels, Priscilla Heald and her son, Josh Enderly, who were sent from heaven in our hour of need, and who loved and cared for our cherished father as if he was their own, even after he had taken his last breath.
Visiting hours will take place at St. Joseph Maronite Church on Friday, Dec. 12, from 5-8 p.m., followed by the funeral liturgy on Saturday, Dec. 13, at 11 a.m. Arrangements provided by Gallant Funeral Home, Waterville.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to:
St. Joseph's Maronite Church
or the Mid-Maine Homeless
Shelter in Waterville
or the Abbey of Regina Laudis
273 Flanders Rd.
Bethlehem, Connecticut 06751
"Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30
Published in Central Maine on Dec. 11, 2014