His life has been a constant brotherhood, first domestic then spiritual. Now, it’s .
Joe DeAgostino, a brother to five growing up in Michigan, now has more than double that. The pastoral associate at André House since July professed vows with the Congregation of Holy Cross Aug. 31 and became the 14th brother in the U.S. Province in final vows. Another handful are at various stages of discernment.
Four men on the priesthood track — including Vincent Nguyen who served at André House last summer — professed vows alongside Br. Joe and were ordained transitional deacons the following day.
“As they profess poverty, chastity and obedience, they are professing their complete and total trust that Christ is their place in the world, and that they will not only abide in im, but proclaim im with their lives,” Holy Cross Father William Lies, provincial superior, said during Mass. “These vows that you profess today, what you do here today, is an act of love for the God who first loved you. They will allow you to love as Christ loves us … and to be Christ for others.”
Priesthood is something Br. Joe discerned too, but switched from the Priests’ Society to the Brothers’ Society shortly after his first vows in 2014. He still identified with Holy Cross and its communal life, but not the sacramental ministry.
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“I always thought I had a calling to the brothers, but I wasn’t really sure why,” Br. Joe said. He does know that Congregation of Holy Cross roots had brothers in schools and he hopes to pursue further studies in developmental education. A summer job as an undergraduate student put him in contact with people with special needs at the St. Louis Center in Michigan.
“Having people who cared for them was their greatest need,” Br. Joe said. On the spiritual side, Br. Joe finds it easier to work with a child’s natural curiosity. He also thrives on engaging in a relationship with people and the life of a religious brother affords that.
“If you have rapport with people, you’re able to maybe not solve [their problem] immediately, but you have an inroads,” Br. Joe said. He recognizes that the services and relationships offered to guests at André House won’t fix everything but described it as a transitory place equipped to help guests with immediate needs first then champion longer goals of bettering themselves.
He loves seeing people move on from there and those who occasionally come back to volunteer. Although Br. Joe is still a “freshman” at André House, he spent the last two years as pastoral assistant at St. André Bessette in Portland, Oregon. The church served those experiencing homelessness and impoverishment in the area. Serving breakfast and dinner weren’t daily but regular services as was clothing distribution and a foot care ministry.
Fr. Tim Weed, CSC, has known Br. Joe about 10 years dating back to his first year in seminary. Br. Joe lived at the University of Portland where the priest now serves and supported him in campus ministry.
“Joe will be an excellent Holy Cross Brother because he brings a lot to the table,” Fr. Weed said. “He’s hardworking, he’s prayerful, he has an excellent sense of our mission in Holy Cross, and he’s willing to do what needs to be done. Joe is reserved and can be pretty softspoken, but he’s also a friendly and welcoming presence who will do well at André House.”
Fr. Weed himself spent a summer during formation at André House and called it a demanding and “incredibly personal assignment that really asks you to place your trust in God as you do the work, and I see Joe bringing a lot of that with him. He has a strong heart for those who are on the margins or in need. He’s always willing to reach out to those who are struggling, to provide a place for them.”
Br. Joe was the first to make final vows in the U.S. province since the early ‘90s. He said both grandparents and a great aunt were particularly active in the Church as he grew up. He attended Catholic school all his life including a high school run by Oblates of St. Francis de Sales.
There happen to be two religious members in Br. Joe’s family: a great uncle who is a religious brother and a great aunt who is a religious sister.