As a boy, he played priest, pretending to offer the sacrifice of the Mass for his family. Later, he was mistaken for one as he worked in St. Patrick’s Catholic Soup Kitchen serving the poor and homeless. Fr. Peter Carota, former parochial vicar of St. Catherine of Siena Parish, died on July 8, in Stockton, California. He served St. Catherine of Siena Parish from 2013 to 2015. He was 68.

Fr. Peter Carota 2

Fr. Peter Carota

Born: Nov. 15, 1948

Ordained: May 24, 1997 for the Diocese of Stockton, California

Ministry in the Diocese of Phoenix

St. Catherine of Siena Parish, 2013-2015

Died: July 8, 2016

He was ordained a priest on May 24, 1997 for the Diocese of Stockton, California. Fr. Carota also worked as a realtor, missionary in Brazil and founder of St. Francis Catholic Soup Kitchen and Jesus, Mary and Joseph Housing Shelter, in Santa Cruz.

According to Nancy Brady, campaign leader of Phoenix 40 Days for Life, after Fr. Carota arrived in the Valley, he would participate in the prayer vigil campaign and regularly go out to pray on his own throughout the years.

“He was a good and faithful servant of the Lord, who was loved by his parish, and the pro-life community,” she said in an e-mail to the 40 Days for Life community. “May he rest in peace.”

Several years ago, he began celebrating the Latin Mass in the Extraordinary Form, devoting his heart and soul to it. He integrated it into weekday Masses at St. Catherine’s. According to parish administrative assistant Maria Elena Jimenez, his death leaves a huge void in the Church.

“He was so humble, warm, loving and honest, and very passionate about his faith,” she said. “He was involved in the parish community and when he first started here, he didn’t have a lot to do so he would help me stuff envelopes, or mail things, and a few months later, I hardly saw him because he got involved in all aspects of the parish, such as religious education, marriage prep, visiting the sick and attending the Legion of Mary group.”

Each morning, Fr. Carota came into the parish office and greeted each of the employees. He instituted parish luncheons and potluck dinners. He also organized a parish-based basketball team which continues to bring dads and sons from both St. Catherine of Siena and Mater Misericordiae for a pickup game on Sundays. Fr. Carota sometimes joined in, cassocks and all.

“He was big on bringing the community together and he did it well,” said Jimenez. “We will miss him very much, but are thankful for his priesthood and we will ask him to pray and intercede for us.”

courtesy photo
courtesy photo

Last October, Fr. Carota took a sabbatical and returned to his home Diocese of Stockton to address failing health issues. His health began spiraling downwards and he spent the last few months of his life in a private home in Escalon where he was receiving full-time care. His funeral was held July 15 at the Cathedral of the Annunciation in Stockton.