Peninsula Beacon Kids Page October 12, 2000
by Danny Stricker
Danny, interviewing Father Joe, a San Diego
icon, known for helping out the homeless with programs at St. Vincent de
Stricker: When did you become a priest?
Father Joe: I became a priest in 1974. Twenty-six
Stricker: What did you do before then?
Father Joe: Oh I did a number of jobs. I worked
for the post office, for a grocery store, for a butcher shop, for a bank.
Then I decided I didn't want to work anymore and became a priest. But they
lied to me. They expect you to work seven days a week.
Stricker: How many homeless people stay here at
Father Joe: In St. Vincent de Paul on regular
nights we have about 850 people, of which about 180 are children. In winter
we went as high as 1700. So in the winter we take extra people in and run
Stricker: How many more are there that you don't
have room for?
Father Joe: We estimate there's about 3-4 thousand
homeless in the downtown area. If you include Point Loma and the beaches
and the rest of the county you probably go as high as 6-7 thousand people.
Stricker: Are you going to try to make room
for them too?
Father Joe: Yes. When the ballpark expands we
will also expand St. Vincent de Paul. We will try to tie it into the same
Stricker: How long can they stay with you?
Father Joe: They can stay up to two years. The
idea is to help them get an education, help the correct any problems thry
are having; drug problems, financial problems. Correct all that so when
they leave us their lives have totally changed.
Stricker: What can kids do to help?
Father Joe:: They can donate their used clothes
that are in good condition. They could do a new toy drive. They could do
a food drive in their neighborhood. They could bug their parents to make
out a check and send it to me at St. Vincent de Paul. That's the best thing
they could do-bug their parents.
Stricker: What do you do in your spare time?
Father Joe: (Laughs) What's spare time? I try
to travel. I love going on cruises. Plus the Padres, of course.