Father Joe Lody making an impact at St. Cecilia Catholic Church in Jasper
by Jennifer Cohron
Dec 26, 2013 | 1573 views | 0 0 comments | 35 35 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Father Joe Lody came to St. Cecilia Catholic Church in Jasper earlier this year after serving at Our Lady of Sorrows in Homewood. Daily Mountain Eagle - Jennifer Cohron
Father Joe Lody came to St. Cecilia Catholic Church in Jasper earlier this year after serving at Our Lady of Sorrows in Homewood. Daily Mountain Eagle - Jennifer Cohron
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St. Cecilia’s Father Joe Lody started on the path to priesthood at 14.

As a high school seminary student, Lody was no more or less certain of his calling than those who make the decision later in life.

“You don’t go to the seminary to be a priest. You go to discern whether God is calling you and if it’s the life you can live,” Lody said.

After college seminary, Lody began having some doubts. Many of his friends were getting married, and he entertained thoughts of doing the same.

During his four years away from the seminary, Lody became engaged and earned a master’s degree.

He filled his spare time by volunteering at every soup kitchen in his New Jersey neighborhood.

Lody realized that his spirit was nourished by helping others. He used to describe this feeling as wanting to live a life of altruism. Now he has refined his phrasing.

“The reality is that I want to live Christ,” Lody said.

Lody’s break from seminary also included a stint in law school.

One day, a lawyer came to retrieve him for a company softball game, and Lody couldn’t leave because he needed to account for 15 minutes of time.

At the lawyer’s suggestion, Lody called a client and left a brief voice mail. His friend then recommended that he bill the client for the full 15 minutes.

“I knew she didn’t have the money, and there was something really unjust about that,” Lody said.

Lody left law school at the end of the semester. He views the incident as an example of a supernatural sensitivity to right and wrong that leads some into full-time ministry.

“We’re made in the image and likeness of God, according to Genesis Chapter One. Our sense of injustice, of where God is not, is profound. So we get angry at that injustice and want to do something about it. A priest is someone who is willing to make that correction of where God is lacking into a lifestyle,” Lody said.

Lody took his faith into the streets to work with gang members and homeless youth.

Knowing that they would not often see the inside of a church, he brought the church’s ministry to them.

Most of the time, they modified their behavior while a man of God was among them and he felt no fear.

However, once in east Los Angeles, a gang member warned him about an impending act of retaliation and urged him to get out before shots were fired.

In the young man’s expression, Lody saw the deep-seated anger that is necessary to commit such an act of violence, but he also saw genuine concern for a fellow human being.

“I saw love in his face in the midst of all this anger, and I couldn’t decipher which had the dominance. That scared me,” Lody said.

Lody was ordained in October 2003.

Prior to coming to St. Cecilia Catholic Church in August, Lody was assigned to Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church in Homewood, St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Madison and St. John the Apostle Catholic Church in Alexander City.

Lody said while his time in seminary gave him the necessary head knowledge, ministry at the local level shaped the way he interacts with the world in a more profound way.

Visiting parishioners in their homes gives him an insight into their lives and struggles outside the walls of the church.

Conversely, he hopes that the times they spend at St. Cecilia will influence the rest of their week.

“Faith needs to be the lens through which we see the world,” Lody said.