Holy Name of Jesus Church
Valhalla, NY, USA
Industry: Social Services
Field: Religious Services
According to The Official Catholic Directory, in 2010 it was recorded that “there are 68,503,456 Catholics in the United States (22 percent of the population).” During his time in the Roman Catholic Church, Rev. Joseph A. Blenkle has seen the number of consistent churchgoers dwindle and has taken a vow upon himself to see that this percentage only grows in the years to come. He is the priest of Holy Name of Jesus Church in Valhalla, N.Y., and as such preaches to more than 2,000 congregants over the five Masses that are celebrated on Saturday and Sunday.
While only a young altar boy in middle school, Rev. Blenkle decided his life’s work would be turning people toward the word of God. In 1990, he began his mission by becoming an ordained priest through Saint Joseph’s Seminary. For more than 20 years he has presided at weddings and funerals and has given back to the community by teaching and speaking at women’s prisons. He is also an avid fundraiser and teaches religious education. He describes being a Catholic priest as wonderful and considers himself to be very lucky. During his tenure, he has been fortunate to meet not only one pope, but two. He met Pope John Paul II once in New York, and was able to personally shake his hand at their second meeting in Rome. Also, while having the honor of serving communion at Yankee Stadium, Rev. Blenkle met the current head of the Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI.
Prior to becoming an ordained priest, Rev. Blenkle earned a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and Religious Studies with honors in 1986 from Iona College, followed by a Master of Arts in Divinity in 1990 from Saint Joseph’s Seminary. He is a member of the Westchester Hills Golf Club, the Knights of Columbus and Lions Clubs International. Recently elected to the priest senate, he is also a board member of Sirius Satellite Radio’s Global Catholic Radio Network.
Conversation with The Rev. Joseph A. Blenkle
Worldwide Publishing: On what topics do you consider yourself to be an expert?
Joseph A. Blenkle: Spiritual guidance and the Catholic faith.
What is the most significant issue facing your profession today?
People leaving the church for whatever reason and not returning.
What short-term and long-term career goals are you currently pursuing?
I want to keep getting better in what I’m doing. I don’t do the same thing every year; I change it.
What advice can you offer fellow members or others aspiring to work in your industry?
For someone interested in my vocation, I would tell them that it’s been a wonderful life and I have no regrets. I am very happy as a priest.
Did you ever consider pursuing a different career path or another profession? If yes, how did you end up working in your current field?
I was in the sixth grade and was an altar boy when I first developed an interest in becoming a priest. In 1979, I met Pope John Paul II at Madison Square Garden and that took the cake. I got to meet him personally and shake his hand in Rome in 1996. That was a completion of a life’s journey.
What lessons have you learned as a professional in your field for 20 years?
That living a life of devotion to God is a wonderful life.
What are some questions that an individual interested in your services can ask to ensure a more productive relationship?
For someone who is struggling in their faith, I would tell them to persevere, that the Lord is with them on their journey, and he is ready to extend his hand if they are willing to grasp it.
What do you find to be most rewarding about your profession?
Helping people through their times of stress and showing them that God is always by their side.
What is the most difficult obstacle or challenge you have faced in pursuit of your goals?
One of the greatest challenges I face is bringing the love our God has for each individual person to them. Sometimes there are stumbling blocks and sometimes, I have to get out of the way and let God do his work.
What characteristics help to separate you from others in your field?
I would hope and pray that all priests strive and do their best to bring God’s loving presence to all those they serve.
What motivates you?
The compassion and love our people have in God and how they trust in his mercy and love.
Who have been your mentors or people who have greatly influenced you?
I have been fortunate enough to teach other young men who have aspirations for the priesthood.
What changes have you observed in your industry/field since you started?
There are fewer priests and more people. I can’t reach them all, but I can save some or help some, one person at a time.
How do you see these changes affecting the future of your industry?
I will try to balance my time to be more effective.