5 Things to Know About Father Joe
Father Joe Krupp is FAITH Magazine’s most popular columnist. “In the Know with Father Joe” has attracted FAITH readers for 20 years with its blend of advice, canonical explanations and its author’s trademark humor. If you’ve been reading FAITH for all 20 years or just a few months, you might feel you know this source of All Things Catholic.
But when FAITH asked about All Things Father Joe, we got a deeper picture of the man who offers guidance in our faith. We’ve distilled them into five points we thought you should know.
He loves his mom, Martha
“We used to call my mom ‘Jesus’ Little 2 by 4’ because she was that subtle!” Father Joe laughs. “She actually grew up afraid of God. Then, in the early 1970s, one of our neighbors in Montrose worked her over to get her saved. Finally, she agreed to be baptized in the Holy Spirit and convinced Dad to do it with her. It changed everything for them.
“They created the first ecclesial lay community – Mt. Zion Catholic Pastoral Center – where a lay commission hired the parish priest. In the 1980s and ’90s, my mom was invited to talk to Church leaders, including at the Vatican, about the laity’s role in the evolving Church. In my favorite picture of her, she is addressing an assembly of cardinals and bishops. You can see in their faces that she has them captivated.
“I love that Mom used to sit with one book on each leg and read them both at the same time. My family called me ‘Footnote’ because I read her encyclopedias from A to Z. I was terrible at school! It was very hard to sit still, but I loved learning. Mom always defended me and my dreams.
“I was the youngest of six babies she bore, but she and Dad took in over 38 people, young and old, who came to our home at different stages and for different reasons. I knew when certain priests drove up, I was getting a new brother or sister. She loved us all and protected our right to be kids.
“People were constantly calling or showing up for her help or advice until her Alzheimer’s took over. She passed away in 2015.”
He loves his dad, Gordon
“Dad was my mom’s rock. My sister, Laure, once said, ‘Dad’s our North Star. If you ever feel lost, find him.’ He is prayerful, thoughtful, kind, tender. After 35 years as a pipefitter at GM, physically he’s a beast! But he uses his strength well. And he has a crazy sense of humor,” Father Joe giggles, “which pops out when you least expect it.
“For 35 years, he left at 4:30 every morning for work. My parents often wondered how they would make ends meet for all of us. But they provided a home full of life, beauty, chaos and strife. The whole thing.”
Father Joe turns to his father, who lives with him and is listening to our interview. “I don’t know what your magic was,” he tells Gordon. “You and Mom were strict, but we got to be kids with time to think and dream and just be.”
He grew up in a devoted Catholic family
“Mom and Dad conditioned us to love the Lord just like coaches condition their athletes. A big part of this was nonnegotiable family dinner and prayer. If sports practice conflicted, we gave up the team. Every evening we would gather around the table and follow a practice called PRAY – an acronym for Praise, Repent, Ask, Yield.
“At dinner, each person would say ‘I thank the Lord for ...’ and fill in whatever we felt grateful for at that moment. We would eat and talk and laugh through our meal, then we all got quiet as we considered what we needed to repent for that day. Mom always said we had to phrase it as ‘I ask your forgiveness for ...’ and complete the sentence acknowledging how we had wounded them. After repenting, every person in our family asked God for a blessing we needed. Then we listened to a reading from Mass that day and discussed it as a group – yielding to God’s word.” Father Joe smiles. “That’s what I grew up with and that’s what I loved.
“The ecclesial community my parents founded was eventually taken over by the priest and absorbed into the diocese. After that, Mom and Dad worked with the bishop and formed a new community in Flushing. Mt. Zion is an ecclesial lay community that many of my family still attend today. I am one of 12 priests that community produced in its first 10 years.”
He draws on his faith-filled upbringing
“Now I am the pastor of St. Mark the Evangelist and Holy Family parishes in Grand Blanc. When the pandemic started, I admired Italian priests risking their lives to be with the sick. When we saw our own quarantine coming, I called our team together and said, ‘We’re going to war.’
“Like in Italy, we walked along our streets with the Eucharist. Hundreds turned out in person and online. When I learned there are hundreds of nursing home patients within 10 miles of here, I decided to say Mass online at 10 a.m. every Sunday. We sent lay people with iPads into the facilities to sit with patients and attend Mass together. When the nursing homes closed to outsiders, I sometimes climbed ladders to give Last Rites through the windows of dying patients.
“Throughout the pandemic, every day at noon, I was live on Facebook. We welcomed thousands of faithful to our virtual gatherings. That’s how Joe in Black Ministries started. I say Mass every day and host different programs online – classes, guest interviews, Q&A. I just try to bring joy as much as possible. We get beautiful letters from people who have been brought back to the faith.
“Early on, people started to send money, though we never asked for it. I encouraged them to contribute to their home parishes, but eventually we stopped fighting it. Now we direct their donations to our tuition assistance fund and efforts to restore the Holy Family grounds, where we host Joe in Black Ministries.”
He relies on prayer
“I’m still the heart-graph man going up and down,” he laughs as his finger draws sharp peaks and valleys in the air. “I am totally dependent on people’s prayers,” he confesses. “It always amazes me to realize that they and God like me.”
Then he changes direction a bit. “The Lord delights in his people, of course. I know that. But this is the ME that God made. And he likes me.” Joe’s smile reflects a sense of wonder.
It’s not hard to imagine Jesus’ Little 2 by 4 smiling protectively, too.
Join the fun on YouTube.com and search Joe in Black Ministries. His YouTube channel offers his homilies, teachings that he calls Quantum Catechesis, interviews and on-location segments titled Father Joe On the Go! All are delivered in his signature style of irreverence, humor and grace.