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Father Brown installed as the new pastor of St. Joseph Catholic Church
BY KARIN DAVIS-THOMPSON, Staff Writer
ST. PETERSBURG — St. Joseph Catholic Church, located 2101 22nd Ave. S, has always been known to be a welcoming, dynamic and diverse community of believers, representing the Catholic faith with one heart and many faces.
On Saturday, June 23, Father Stephan Brown was installed by Bishop Gregory Parks of the Diocese of St. Petersburg to be the new spiritual leader of the 96-year-old congregation.
Brown’s call to the ministry came early on in his life. Raised with a father who was a member of the team that developed the artificial heart, he knew he too wanted to be a part of something that would change lives.
“When I was in high school, I wanted to make a difference in the African-American community,” Brown said. I wanted to do something. I didn’t know how; I only knew that I loved God and the Church.”
The decision to answer God’s call has led to a lifelong career of changing hearts and has given him the opportunity to impact lives all over the world.
“Learning five languages and traveling three continents has caused me to impact lives and make the world a better place, he averred. “Preaching became my passion. I’ve preached revivals and missions in the United States, Brazil and the Caribbean.”
Over the past 10 years, Brown has served as the assistant to the presidency for the ministry at St. Leo University, and a year as the associate pastor of St. Paul Catholic Church in Tampa.
Ten months ago, he was asked by the bishop to serve as the pastor of St. Joseph’s. On June 23, the appointment was celebrated with the official installation service, which was a formal acceptance of his call to be pastor the church.
Brown made his vow to pledge obedience to the Pope and promised to believe and teach all that has been handed down by Christ. The service was also a celebration of his 25th year in the ministry.
The 54-year-old pastor said his time in service to God has allowed him to gain wisdom, knowledge and a thick skin.
“I have learned a great deal about myself and learned more about God’s great love for His people and allowing someone who without Him could do absolutely nothing.”
Now, as the pastor at St. Joseph’s, Brown is looking forward to the opportunity to continue God’s work.
“I have great hopes that St. Joseph’s can become a beacon of hope and joy.”
Brown said he is looking forward to growing the congregation and inviting community leaders to partner with the church to help serve the Casler Heights neighborhood where it sits.
Along with getting to know his parishioners, Brown has been hard at work visiting the sick, forming partnerships with community groups to provide more programs for children and holding office hours for those who may need counsel. He has also spent time walking the neighborhood, greeting members of the community and introducing himself.
Now that his official installation service is over, Brown will continue to work on growing the church and doing the work God called him to do. And while he looks forward to the challenges ahead, he is honored for the opportunity to reflect on his 25-year career.
“If I can be proud of anything, it would be having been in some small way instrumental in someone coming to know Jesus Christ and accepting Him as their only Lord and Savior.”