Our Ministries

To be a disciple of Jesus Christ implies that one ministers to others. Jesus commanded us to Love one another as I have loved you, and Jesus came to serve us and His Father, so we must do the same! God has given everyone talents for His glory and to build up His Body. Every member of  our parish is expected to minister in some way.  So go through the various listed ministers and ask the Lord what He is calling YOU to do for His Glory!

(Complete listing and descriptions below.)



This class is offered once a month for new parents.  Parents are required to attend only once — prior to the time of their first child’s Baptism. Instruction includes information about the sacrament itself, the selection of Godparents, and other pertinent information.



This takes place during the 8:30 AM and 11:00 AM Masses on Sundays.  After a blessing from the celebrant and the congregation, the children, from age 4 years until pre-First Communion, are led by their teacher to their room, where they hear the Sunday scriptures read and explained in words they can understand. A craft pertaining to the readings of the day is then distributed for the children to complete, after which the children are brought back into the Sunday Mass. Children’s Liturgy of the Word is one way to nurture our youngest children in their faith. 


The St. Joseph Friendship Ministry is the place for any teen/adult with a cognitive impairment to find a place of belonging in our church. It is a place where friends and mentors grow together in relationship to Jesus Christ, one another, and the Church. It is a place for faith, friendship and fun.

The St. Joseph Friendship Ministry meets upstairs in the Community Center the 2nd and 4th Monday of each month from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.  To date we have 7 friends and 6 mentors attending these get-togethers.  Ages range from age 13 to age 83 and together we are educating each other through song, faith lessons, crafts, prayer, conversation and snacks.

All parish members and/or folks outside the parish are invited to join our group and participate in this social/educational experience. If you know of someone who might be interested or for more information, contact Diana Englund at   899-6194. 


The parish LENDING LIBRARY is located in the Community Center on the first floor and is available to all who would like to sign out a book, CD, video, etc. for home use.  There is a great variety of religious topics and documents included in our media.

R.C.I.A. (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults)

RCIA meetings are designed for adults who are considering becoming Catholic, those who would like to know more about the Catholic faith, and any adult who would like to receive the sacrament of Confirmation.  Classes begin in October and are held on Sundays from 9:45 to 10:55 AM in the Community Center. Those who want to become Catholic or come into full communion with the Catholic Church are brought into the church at the Easter Vigil.  


RELIGIOUS EDUCATION CLASSES for grades pre-K through 5 are held in our Community Center on Sundays from 9:45 AM to 10:50 AM, from September to June.  Classes for our teens, grades 6 through 10, are held bi-weekly on Sunday evenings from 6:00 to 8:00 PM, also from September to June.  Confirmation classes are  held bi-weekly on Monday evenings in the Parish Community Center.


This is usually held in June, is a week-long “vacation” for all of our youngsters , ages 4 through fourth grade.  Through skits, songs, catechesis, and crafts, the children will learn about their faith and family values. The week culminates on Friday with celebration of Mass together, a musical performance by the children, and  a group lunch.  Adult and teen volunteers are always needed and most welcome!



The ministry of ALTAR SERVERS is unique in that it affords our youth an opportunity to participate more fully in the liturgy by serving on the altar at our Sunday Masses.  Both boys and girls, ranging in age from "post-First Communion" through high school, are encouraged to join.  There are currently 45 altar servers in our parish, but we are always encouraging our many, many youth to join this ministry of service.  Training is available at any time of the year.  We are also in need of adults to help with serving on the altar for our funerals.  Adults would need to be available during the morning or early afternoon hours to serve. 


A call to the Eucharistic Ministry is a call to serve God and His people through the distribution of Communion (both the Body and Blood of Christ) at Sunday liturgy, as well as to bring the Body of Christ to the sick and the homebound. St. Joseph Church -- Bread of Life Community  currently has a ministry of 87 active adults who serve as Extraordinary Ministers at Sunday Mass and as Ministers to the Sick and Homebound. Those who may participate are post-Confirmation young adults and older who are (or will become) committed adorers in our Perpetual Adoration Chapel. Training for this ministry is available once each year. With Father Larry's recommendation to our Bishop Persico, trained Extraordinary Ministers are commissioned for a three-year term. 


PRAYER is the most important activity we can do EVERY day.  In our parish, we offer many opportunities for prayer -- in our Perpetual Adoration Chapel, at our daily and Sunday Masses, and at the special services we celebrate weekly and annually.  In addition, we have groups who pray for the special needs of our parishioners, their families and friends, and others in need.  Our HEALING PRAYER TEAM exists to pray WITH people in need of healing.  They are available after our 11:00 AM Mass each Sunday.  They are most willing to listen to your specific needs and pray with you.  If you feel that you have a gift of praying with people, contact the leader of the ministry.



What an awesome privilege it is to proclaim the Word of God! The LECTORS MINISTRY is made up of 33 men and women who proclaim the Good News during the Sunday Mass. Training for this ministry is available upon request. If you have the skills required to communicate God's message competently and the desire to serve God in spreading His Word, the Lectors Ministry may be right for you.



PERPETUAL EUCHARISTIC ADORATION, begun in our parish on Ash Wednesday, 2004, is the gift of Jesus’ presence in the Blessed Sacrament in our chapel twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.  Adorers are in the chapel every hour praying, reading, meditating, and reflecting.  Located in the Community Center, access to the chapel is available weekdays from 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM. by ringing the doorbell at the Community Center.   For those who would like to come outside of those hours, a call or visit to the parish office is all it takes to get information about a special code for weekend and off-hours entry.   We are always in need of committed adorers at all hours of the day and night, since some of the time slots are vacated due to work hour changes, returning to school, etc.    For more information or to become a committed adorer, contact the parish office at 452-2982.


Our parish PRAYER LINE is composed of many parishioners who receive special prayer requests on a daily basis and offer prayer for these specific needs.  Needs range from physical healing to employment problems, from family issues to spiritual healing.  And the list goes on.  If you are interested in being part of this great "chain" of people who intercede for those who request prayer, call the parish office at 452-2982.  If you are in need of prayer, call the Prayer Line at 323-8596.


In the midst of physical illness or an emotional crisis, a family problem or an inner conflict, what better way to know that you are loved and held up in prayer than to be “wrapped in the arms of Jesus.”  In response to this need for something “warm and tangible,” our PRAYER SHAWL MINISTRY serves the needs of our parishioners and others by giving away hand-knitted and hand-crocheted prayer shawls, lap blankets, and Baptismal blankets.  Some gather on Sunday afternoons, other work on their shawls during Holy Hours in the Chapel, and even others crochet at home in the evening — all the while praying for the needs of the one who receive this gift.  Over 1000 shawls and blankets have been given away in the  time the ministry has been active.  All requests for these beautiful prayer shawls and blankets are filled, many times within hours of the call.  Donations of yarn or funds to keep the drawers of yarn full are not necessary but certainly and graciously accepted. 


The “THIRTY-ONE CLUB” is a  ministry of prayer for vocations.  Those who sign up select the day of the month of their choice and agree to offer Mass for the intention of fostering vocations in our parish, in our diocese, and around the world on that particular day.  In this way, we know that EVERY DAY in the year is "covered" with pray for vocations to the priesthood and religious life.  If you would like to commit one day each month to prayer and the offering of Mass for this intention, call the parish office at 452-2982 to sign up.


There are currently 28 men and women in the USHERS MINISTRY at St. Joseph Church -- Bread of Life Community. They are responsible for welcoming members and guests at the doors, assisting people to seats in the church, taking up the Sunday offering during the Mass, and distributing bulletins. Because of the larger numbers of people attending weekly Mass, there is always a need for more ushers! Men, women – are you being called to this form of service?


The Serra Vocations Chalice Program involves families in vocations awareness by inviting a family each week to pray daily for vocations. The family assigned for the week receives the chalice from the celebrant at Saturday evening or Sunday Mass, places it on the mantel or dining room table at home, and says a prayer or two daily for vocations. If you are interested in getting on the list to take the Vocations Chalice home for a week, call Tim Greer at 504-7576.


Children are the life-blood of our parish community and the future of our church!  There is nothing so important as bringing our littlest one into our faith.  The BAPTISMAL MINISTRY is a group of volunteers who sew and embroider the Baptismal bibs and stoles for the infants, toddlers, and children who are baptized in our church.  If you are gifted with sewing skills, this may be the ministry for you!


The BEREAVEMENT MINISTRY is essential in providing support for parish families whose loved ones pass away. The most practical way for them to help out is to provide a luncheon after the funeral Mass. The funeral luncheon, served in our Community Center gym, affords the family and friends the chance to have a tasty meal and friendly visit, without the restrictions of time or space in a restaurant.  There is no charge for this service; however, donations are greatly appreciated.  There are currently two teams of luncheon servers, who alternate dates to serve but work together at the luncheons. Some of the team members provide food for the meal, while others set up, serve, and clean up. We are always looking for volunteers to fill any of the above roles in this ministry.


The CARE MINISTRY is a group of volunteers who assist the parishioners of St. Joseph’s by preparing meals for someone just out of the hospital,  for a family with a new baby, or perhaps someone undergoing chemotherapy, etc.  The life circumstances for help may vary, but the goal is to lend a hand in a practical way. Occasionally there’s a need to supply a ride to the doctor in an emergency situation, or to pick up groceries or a prescription for a shut-in, or sitting with an elderly person or babysitting.  All who can assist in any way (or in other ways not mentioned) are most welcome to join Care Ministry.


Our CHURCH CLEANING TEAMS are instrumental in making sure that God’s house is spotless!  There are currently three teams of about 8 to 10 volunteers — the Emmanuel Laborers, the Clean of Heart, and the Shining Spirits — who take turns cleaning twice a month on Saturday, from 8:30 AM to 10:00 AM.  Because we have such a beautiful church with intricate furnishings, we are always in need of additional volunteers to join a team (and clean once every six weeks) or offer to clean every time we get together.


Our DISABILITIES ACCESS Ministry is always on the look-out for structural and environmental barriers affecting our disabled parishioners and guests.   And they make it their duty to be sure that all in the parish and those who visit are happy and safe!  Our church is accessible by ramp; the first pew and indented spaces in the first three pews are always available for the handicapped and those in wheelchairs. Our 11:00 AM Mass is signed for the deaf by our Diocesan Deaf Ministry, and we have had, on occasion, made room for an attendee's service dog!  Our Community Center is also readily accessible to all who are disabled.  At the onset of its remodeling, an elevator was installed, and the west entrance is wheelchair accessible.  The ministry coordinators welcome comments and suggestions to create an even safer environment for all.


Our parish community is known for its spirit of fellowship, and the FELLOWSHIP Ministry works hard to make all who enter our church and Community Center feel “at home.”  Fellowship takes place after all of our Sunday Masses (barring the use of the Community Center gym by another group), and all are welcome to come for refreshments and goodies.  The set-up and clean-up crews are faithful in their duties, but more volunteers are always needed to make their job just a little lighter — so that they can enjoy the company of our guests, too!


OKTOBERFEST is our parish community celebration and yearly fundraiser for the restoration of our beautiful church.  Held THIS year on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, October 6th, 7th, and 8th, our parish Community Center “becomes” a virtual German restaurant, beer garden, dance hall, and coffeehouse all in one!  All weekend parishioners and guests enjoy German entertainment, German food, specially-made beer for our celebration alone, children’s games, theme baskets, coffeehouse treats, German shops, a cash raffle, and fun, fun, fun!!!  All parishioners are encouraged to participate in some way for this glorious celebration of our German heritage.  What a way to build community!


In August each year , you will find about 500 to 600 St. Joseph—Bread of Life parishioners at Waldameer Park in a pavilion getting ready for Mass at 11:00 AM.   After Mass and a delicious picnic meal, the people play bingo for prizes, the children play games and get their  faces painted, and others delight in visiting with other parishioners.  The rides and Water World are available for the afternoon and evening entertainment.  When all’s said and done, it’s a great way to come together for food, fun, and fellowship.


Start cleaning out those closets and basements for the annual Rummage Sale, held in the spring in the Community Center.  For the past several years, we have come together to donate our “treasures” for sale to our parishioners and the public.  The two-day event, though tiring for those who work hard to collect the items, set up, organize, clean up, and “work the registers,” always brings in about $3,000.00 for the parish.  We are always in need of donations of items, volunteers to help with getting ready for the big event, and workers to help the days of the sale.


One of our newest ministries, the Diaper Closet, is a source of diapers, wipes, and other baby items for those in need.  Parishioners and friends are most generous in providing us with baby formula and baby food, as well as soap and toiletries.  Your donation of diapers that no longer fit your growing baby or samples you receive in the mail are greatly appreciated.


Our St. Joseph Food Pantry serves many needy families in our neighborhood.  Many non-perishable foods, purchased at the  Second Harvest Food Bank here in Erie, are available to our qualified clients.  In addition, food is donated on a regular basis by our members, and the generosity of our parishioners allows the Food Pantry administrator to purchase perishable food for the needy, as well.  The Pantry is open the second and fourth Mondays of each month, from 10:00 AM to 11:30 AM.  Parishioners in need of food are most welcome. 


As a part of our mission to reach out to others, several of our parishioners participate on the OUTREACH BAKING TEAM.  Once each month the bakers get together in the kitchen of the Community Center and bake several dozen cookies or cupcakes or other dessert to be donated to the Emmaus Soup Kitchen.  Our parish is responsible to provide dessert on the same day each month.  It’s ONE way of “feeding the hungry.”


Our OUTREACH TO THE COMMUNITY group is responsible for sponsoring several acts of charity for the needy in the Erie community each year.  They encourage us, as a parish community, in such “missions” as the Annual Diaper Drive, collection of food and donations for the poor at Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, the Angel Tree (gifts for needy children at Christmas time), donation of warm coats, hats, mittens, and money for the Upper Room, to name just a few.  


St. Joseph Church has hosted the Erie Overflow Shelter at our church for the past three years.  Sponsored through Community Shelter Services, the local shelters (churches in the downtown and proximate area) provide dinner, overnight sleeping accommodations, shower facilities, and breakfast for our guests.  Prior to our two-week service, our parish collects all types of toiletries, warm clothing, underwear, socks, coats, etc., as well as snack foods, breakfast treats, and food items for our guests to take when they leave in the morning.  We plan and prepare warm, hearty meals, and we staff the entire twelve hours they are with us daily. 


PRISON MINISTRY is one of the ways parishioners, directly or indirectly, can reach out to the imprisoned.  Many of our parishioners have served on mission teams; others have offered to pray or provide financial help; and still others are needed to write letters to the inmates, color pictures (from the kids, please), and provide cookies for the weekend retreats.  Everyone can help in one way or another to bring Jesus to our brothers and sisters in prison.


ST. CLARE’S CLOTHING STORE, located on the lower level of the Community Center, is “open for business” every Wednesday morning from 9:30 AM to 11:30 AM.  Everyone is welcome to “shop” for clothing, shoes, and  miscellaneous household  items that have been generously donated by parishioners and friends of the parish.  “Shoppers” are allowed to come once a month and help themselves to whatever clothes, etc. are needed  — all free of charge.  Besides clothing , shoes, and household items, the Clothing Store gratefully accepts your donation of bags — paper and plastic — and your offer to sort clothes and be available on Wednesdays to help our clients.


ALMS are donations given to the parish for use in helping the poor and needy of our parish and our community.  Alms given are used for supplying our Food Pantry, providing food and gift cards to the area needy at Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter, helping with postage to send religious articles to the missions, and assisting with Food Vouchers administered by Inter-Church Ministries.  Alms are also used in emergency housing situations and  for emergency needs for babies and small children.


The CATHOLIC SERVICES APPEAL (CSA) is an annual assessment levied by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Erie on each and every parish in the diocese.  It is based on the specific parish’s total annual offertory collection.  All parishioners are asked to make a pledge, and they have 10 months in which to pay it off.  Those who would prefer to make a one-time payment instead are most welcome to do so, as well.  After the assessed amount is paid to the Diocese by the parish, EVERY additional dollar collected stays in the parish for its exclusive use.  No part of this additional amount is taxed by the diocese.  Our parish Catholic Service Appeal funds have been designated for the restoration of our beautiful church, to be completed in time for our 150th Anniversary. 


Our parish FINANCE COMMITTEE is comprised of Father Larry and a group of parishioners appointed to their post on the committee.  They meet quarterly.  The purpose of the committee is to manage the parish finances and make recommendations for the investment and distribution of the funds.  Questions about the group may be directed to the Committee head.


The HOUPT FUND, initially set up to provide funds for our school students to complete their Catholic education when the parish school closed, is now designated to provide for education for our children — both in Catholic schools and in the Religious Education program in our parish.   Your contribution to this fund assures that our parishioners will always have educational opportunities in the parish.


The Leadership Council Advises the Pastor and takes an active role in leading the parish by focusing on the future of the parish and how to best discern God's Will for our community. Advisors are appointed in the areas of Worship, Evangelization, Ministry, Finance, Properties, Fellowship, and Discipleship.


The PROPERTIES COMMITTEE is comprised of appointed parishioners whose job it is to monitor the physical property of our parish.  The group meets quarterly to “walk through” the buildings, assess needs to be met, and then make recommendations for upkeep and upgrading of the property.  This group is instrumental in discussing the specific needs for the restoration of our beautiful church, to be completed in time for our 150th Anniversary.


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