Br. Joey T still lives in the memory of many! Especially in people connected with the St. Vincent de Paul Young Adult Center in Philadelphia who have asked that word be spread so that more could attend the dedication of a chapel in his memory..
On the second floor of our center, in the rec room where our students reflect on the day and talk about the underlying social injustices they witnessed throughout their service, there is a framed picture of our founder—Brother Joseph Tauraso, C.M. Though most of our students might not know who he is, it is his mission come to fruition, that offers them the ability to serve, pray and reflect among the community of Germantown in our Center. As we push forward with our plans to rehabilitate the chapel, and dedicate it in Brother Joe’s honor, we decided to share about our Founder, his life, and the significant impact he had on people who knew him and the students who visit our center.
Joeseph Tauraso, affectionately known as “Brother Joey T” was born on Long Island, on June 26th, 1962. Graduating from St. John’s University in 1984, he soon after took his vows to become a Brother in the Congregation of the Mission. He found his true calling and ministry among youth. He served as campus minister at a high school, St. John’s Prep, in Queens and was the DRE and Director of Youth Ministry at St. John the Baptist, Brooklyn.
In 2000 Brother Joe moved from Brooklyn to Philadelphia to found the St. Vincent de Paul Young Adult Center. He worked tirelessly for three years—rehabilitating the building, forming relationships with local non-profits and developing programming for the Center. On June 17, 2003 Brother Joe passed away suddenly from a massive heart attack. The center and its mission was then taken over by Father J. Timlin, CM and Sister Pat Evanick, a close friend of Brother Joe’s.
In the homily preached by Fr. Charlie Plock at Brother Joe’s funeral in Brooklyn he highlighted three gifts that Joe offered all who knew him—service, a childlike simplicity and joy, and family.
It is evident throughout his life that Brother Joe’s true ministry was to help young people grow in their faith. When asked what made Brother Joe so gifted at working with the youth, Father Agostino, a close friend and fellow Vincentian had the following to say: “He had such a welcoming personality. The kids gravitated towards him like a magnet. It is hard to explain that aspect of a person. He gave students his time and full attention. He made each person feel heard, feel special. And he LOVED to laugh!”
It was perhaps also this childlike simplicity and joy that made him skilled and passionate about working with youth. Fr. Plock continues, “Brother Joey T lived his life with joy. His laughter and smile were contagious. There was a great simplicity and humility about him. Joe understood what it meant to be one of God’s little ones, and was never ashamed or embarrassed to be a ‘kid’.” This natural inclination of Brother Joe to just enjoy the presence of others, and to take joy in the little things created a space where young adults and youth could truly be themselves, and to see the small blessings of God in the every day. Finally, Father Plock mentioned the gift of family. In writing this article we have reached out to many people, and poured over a number of articles about Brother Joe. It is both surprising and moving to find how many people still feel so connected to Brother Joe even after more than a decade from his untimely death. Joe stayed deeply connected and involved with his family throughout his life, planning his mother and fathers wedding anniversary and pushing his nephew Michael for at least three years to get confirmed. He also loved his Vincentian Family – the brothers and priests and Daughters of Charity and the many men and women with whom he collaborated in ministry. It is clear that when Brother Joe decided you were family, he was in it for the long haul.
In the words of Fr. Agostino “The greatest testimony to Joe was just how many people’s lives he touched in so many different ways and in many different settings. And even to this day and it’s a good ten years since he has died, every now and then you still run into people who reminisce about him. And that is always very comforting and goes to show what a special guy he was.”
We, lastly, take this sentiment from Fr. Plock’s homily to heart: “to carry on for Brother Joe as servants, as people who enjoyed simple things in life with great gusto, and as sisters and brothers committed to youth and to each other.”
As we enter the new year, it is with new passion that we rededicate ourselves to the mission of the St Vincent de Paul Young Adult Center put forth by Brother Joe – to inspire students to have a vocation to the Vincentian Charism and its values, so that it could extend to the rest of their lives and the rest of the world.
Please consider sharing with us a memory of Brother Joe, or a donation of any amount toward the renovation of our Chapel in his honor. Thank you.
In 2017 we will begin renovation of The Center chapel. The renovation will include repair of a wall which has water damage, a fresh coat of paint, a new ceiling and carpeting. The chapel will be dedicated to Brother Joey T.
If you have a memory of Br. Joey T. that you would like to share with us please write it on the line below and mail it to us or feel free to send it to our email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I would like to contribute to the renovation and dedication of the Br. Joseph Tauraso, CM. ____ $50.00 ____$100.00 ____$250.00 ____$500.00 ____$1,000.00 ___$Other Amount
Please make checks payable to Daughters of Charity. On memo note: Chapel and mail to:
St. Vincent DePaul Young Adult Center 49 W. Logan St. Philadelphia, PA 19138