Today, we profile a Catholic priest who is also a fantastic Catholic musician. Meet Fr. Joseph Gill of the Diocese of Bridgeport! Lisa
Q: Thank you for sharing your beautiful talents for the glory of our Lord! Would you please briefly introduce yourself to our readers?
My name is Fr. Joseph Gill. I am a priest of the diocese of Bridgeport, CT, ordained in 2015. Currently I serve at a large, Hispanic parish in Stamford, CT. I am originally from Maryland, the oldest of five kids, and I’ve been blessed to serve the church for many years in many ways – through youth ministry, music ministry, and now finally as a priest! In addition to music, my passions are hiking and kayaking, sports (especially baseball – go Orioles!), and writing novels.
I grew up in a solid Catholic family – Sunday Mass was non-negotiable. Both of my parents are on-fire with love for the Lord, and they inculcated me with faith, but admittedly it didn’t really “take” for quite some time. Finally, when I was fourteen, I had the privilege to go to Rome on a pilgrimage. I suddenly realized that this Faith was so much bigger than just my little podunk parish back home! Standing in the Coliseum, I reflected on the fact that ten thousand people shed their blood for Jesus on that very spot – why did I not live my Faith with more passion? When I returned home, the following year my parish started Perpetual Adoration, and I began to go with my family. All of a sudden, God’s love became very personal – I realized that I was personally and passionately loved by God. This sparked a desire to give my whole life back to Him in response. Since then, I have had the opportunity to study the faith at two amazing institutions (Franciscan University of Steubenville and Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland), meet some incredible people who are living lives of radical holiness, and serve God in so many ways.
Q: How did you come to the decision to share your creative talents for spiritual purposes?
I have been playing the piano since I was five, and I picked up guitar a few years later. Even back then I was writing music and performing – when I was 8 or so, my best friend and I formed a band we called “The Boys Band”…until my sister joined. But we used to give neighborhood concerts with skits and original music that I wrote. In high school I started to write music in earnest, learning a lot about the programming and notation side of it (I did a lot of MIDI in those days). But once I experienced my conversion, my songs suddenly became less about an abstract puppy-love and more about the True Love of every human heart, God. I was falling in love with Him, and my songs hopefully reflected that.
Q: Tell us about your CDs. What led to the inspiration for this project and the songs you wrote? Do you have a favorite track on the record?
My first taste of recording was a short 7-song LP called “Last Rites”. It was produced by my sister as her senior project in high school, and we sold it to raise funds for the Birthright Crisis Pregnancy Center. Frankly, it’s so amateurish that I’m embarrased by it, but I was bitten by the recording bug, so two years later over the summer between junior and senior year in college, I recorded my first EP, “The Sacred Romance”. That had a few good songs but I wished I knew then what I know now – the next CD, “Mount Zion” (2008) was light-years ahead in quality. That has even improved with my latest release, “No Lasting City” (2014). I had felt God’s call on my heart to do this new CD for a couple years, but I was afraid that I didn’t have the funds for it. Thankfully a dear friend of mine, Karen Mattera, offered her studio to me for free. Up to that point I had only worked with Doug Jackson, a holy man and a talented musician/music engineer, who recorded the first three CDs, but I was excited for the challenge now of not only doing the performing but the editing, mixing, and producing of the entire album. It allowed me to exercise a musical creativity that expressed myself and my faith on a deeper level. I am partial to the titular song on “No Lasting City” – it came about when I had to move from one beloved parish to another, and it was a reminder that here on this earth we will never have a permanent home, since we were all made for eternity with God! You can download all of my music for free online at the websites at the bottom.
Q: Who are some of your musical influences and your favorite musicians?
I have been blessed to work with some great musicians. First of all, my dad is quite an accomplished pianist in his own right, having led our parish’s folk group for many years. He’s the one who taught me how to play piano, and my mother taught me how to sing (both of them are featured on the Mount Zion album). I was blessed to learn quite a bit from the music ministers that I worked with in Steubenville, many of whom have their own solo careers (Brian Kissinger, Paul J. Kim, Ben Govero, Pete Wigton, Clint Felts). In terms of my musical influences, I have always been a tremendous fan of Simon & Garfunkel, Jars of Clay, MercyMe, and many more obscure indie artists like Judd & Maggie. Any folksy-sounding artist with insightful and poetic lyrics.
Q: For those looking to tap into their own creative energies, what words of encouragement and advise would you offer?
Don’t settle for trite. The world has enough overused love songs, and even dull worship songs. Be creative, be poetic – don’t be afraid to search for a new metaphor, a new chord progression. Don’t settle for ordinary – keep searching for the extraordinary. And pray a lot – and suffer a lot, because the best art comes from a suffering heart.
Q: Thank you for sharing your inspiring talents! Are there any additional thoughts or comments you’d like to share with our readers?
I named my first full album “The Sacred Romance” because that is precisely what our spiritual lives should be like – a sacred romance with God, the Lover of our souls, Who has been wooing us from the beginning until now. Surrender your life to Him and allow Him to fill your heart with His love!
Find Fr. Joseph Gill in these platforms online:
Copyright 2015 Lisa M. Hendey
Images copyright Fr. Joseph Gill, used with permission