On Friday, September 1, the Friars were alerted to the passing of their brother, and former Sacred Heart parochial vicar, Fr. Salim Joseph, OFM. Fr. Salim spent the better part of three years here at Sacred Heart, from 2018 to 2020, his first assignment in the United States. A funeral Mass will be held at Sacred Heart on Wednesday, September 13, 2023, beginning at 10 a.m. A wake will be held at Sacred Heart Knanaya Catholic Forane Church (3920 S Kings Avenue, Brandon) from 5 to 9 p.m. on Tuesday, September 12. Internment following the funeral will be at Calvary Catholic Cemetery (5233 118th Ave N, Clearwater).
The following is a tribute and short biography to our beloved friend and friar from the Order of Friars Minor of the St. Thomas the Apostle in Southern India. (Click here to view the full tribute with images.)
On 31 May 1965, the lives of Mr. C.M. Joseph Mani and Mrs. Alyamma Joseph were graced with the arrival of their beloved son, Br. Salim Joseph. Little did they know, as he lay in the gentle embrace of his mother then, that this boy would one day answer God’s call and serve the Lord as a Friar Priest. Thus began a pilgrim’s journey on this earthly plane that transcended borders and oceans, a path of faith.
With the completion of his Higher Secondary School education, Br. Salim Joseph embarked on his pilgrimage, bidding farewell to the familiar shores and knocking on the sacred doors of the Friary. The horizons of the Franciscan Cloister, which for St. Francis stood for the entire world, unfurled before him as he stepped through the doors of St. Louis Friary Novitiate on 12 June 1985. The pilgrim’s journey as a friar commenced with the donning of the habit on that day. It marked the beginning of a remarkable path as Br. Salim Joseph made his first profession on 13 June 1986, signifying his readiness to journey in the footsteps and share in the dreams of St. Francis of Assisi.
As Br. Salim Joseph progressed in the stages of Formation, he also grew in his zeal and vigour for the pilgrim’s journey resulting in the perpetual profession which he made on 6 October 1991. Completing his theological Studies and pastoral ministry, Br. Salim Joseph was ordained a priest on 5 April 1995. The journey continued…
The journey took him, a newly ordained priest, to serve in Our Lady of Good Counsel Church, Sion, Mumbai for a brief period in 1995. After this, he was appointed as the Director of the Technical School, St. Francis Friary, Kochi from 1995-2001. During the same time, he was appointed the Guardian of St. Francis Friary, Kochi which he held from 1998-2001. Besides these administrative responsibilities, he was zealous pastor in attending to the pastoral needs of the faithful as a Chaplain. It was during this time that his endearing nature endeared him to friends from diverse backgrounds and walks of life. The journey pressed forward as he assumed the role of Parish Priest at St. Mary’s Church and Guardian of Assisibhavan, Chippilithode, from 2003 to 2004.
The journey beyond borders truly took flight as Br. Salim embarked on a mission to Libya. In this foreign land, he served as the Secretary to the Bishop and Guardian of the Friary. Amidst these responsibilities, he also dedicated himself to addressing the pastoral needs of the Indian Catholic community residing there. His commitment transcended geographical boundaries, embodying the spirit of a pilgrim on a journey.
Upon his return to India, Br. Salim Joseph served as the Assistant Parish Priest at St. Francis of Assisi Church, Hyderabad from 2011 to March 2014 during which time he was also the Bursar of the Fraternity until March 2013. His journey then led him to Singapore, where he served as the Spiritual Director and tended to the pastoral needs of the Malayalam Commission from 2014 to 2018. His unwavering commitment and devotion continued to shine brightly, regardless of place.
Br. Salim Joseph embarked on yet another chapter of his journey, this time across the ocean to the United States of America. In this new land, he served as parochial vicar and pastor in several parishes: Sacred Heart Church in Tampa, FL, from 2018 to 2020; Immaculate Conception Church in Durham, NC, from 2020 to 2022; and St. Anthony’s Shrine in 2023. His connection to America deepened as his family had also moved to this country. In May 2023, Br. Salim Joseph took the significant step of incorporating himself as a member of the Holy Name Province.
Br. Salim Joseph embarked on his pilgrim’s journey, leaving a trail of indelible impressions in every place he ministered. His presence, accompanied by a warm and radiant smile, had the power to brighten the faces of all those he encountered. He remained a beloved friar, spreading light and joy wherever he went. An outspoken friar, Br. Salim Joseph was deeply passionate about his Franciscan vocation. He never missed an opportunity to share his profound views and opinions on our life and mission as friars.
Br. Salim Joseph’s simple and affable personality made him a wonderful pastor who connected with everyone through a sense of love and respect. Whether young or old, people were drawn to his company, always wearing cheerful expressions. His grace was the gift of bringing charm and warmth to everyone in his presence. The life journey of Br. Salim Joseph was marked by numerous significant milestones, each contributing to the legacy of his existence. As his life continued to unfold, little did we know that it would be abruptly cut short by his sudden and unexpected passing. On 1 September 2023, as Br. Salim Joseph was en route to Logan Airport, he suddenly suffered a heart attack, tragically bringing his 58 years of life’s journey to a shocking and unexpected end.
We are now gripped by profound sorrow over the loss of our beloved Br. Salim Joseph. This unfortunate and untimely death leaves an irreplaceable void, a vacuum that can never be filled. Yet, in the midst of our grief, our faith reassures us that Br. Salim Joseph’s life journey did not come to a final end here; rather, it has transitioned to the eternal realm. His earthly pilgrimage, meant to culminate in the Eternal, has now truly reached its destination. Requiescat in pace!