Sacred Heart Welcomes Two New Priests to Campus Ministry
Fathers Joseph Farias and Edward Stewart
Two priests with years of experience in higher education have joined Sacred Heart University’s Campus Ministry.
Fathers Joseph Farias and Edward Stewart started working at SHU this fall as university chaplains.
“I’m so impressed by the students,” said Stewart. “They seem really self-possessed, engaging, curious and welcoming.”
Farias said the students he’s met are all open to saying hello. “They’re all so happy and like the school,” he said.
Stewart, a native of Brooklyn, N.Y., said that when he was growing up in the 1960s, the notion of becoming a priest wasn’t rare. “My friends and I had a future priest’s club,” Stewart said during an interview in his Campus Ministry office. “We would practice saying Mass in a friend’s basement.”
While the thought of becoming a priest was always present, Stewart initially pursued a degree in anthropology and Irish Studies at Binghamton University in New York. He then followed his passion for theater to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City.
Stewart worked in community theater and auditioned for professional roles while holding odd jobs and volunteering for a variety of charities. “I had a lot of fun,” he said.
In his late 20s, he started questioning his career path and the idea of becoming a priest resurfaced. He attended the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception on Long Island and was ordained at 35. He served at parishes in Brooklyn and Queens for 16 years, presiding over a number of funerals in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
After taking a leave of absence from active ministry, Stewart worked for several years as director of gift planning for Maryknoll in Ossining, N.Y. and later at St. Francis College in Brooklyn, first as director of major and planned gifts, and then as director of grant research and administration.
A desire to return to pastoral ministry brought Stewart to SHU. “Campus ministry offers me the opportunity to both learn and draw from my parish ministerial experience and my years working at St. Francis College and hopefully will enable me to be of service to all of the different constituencies at Sacred Heart”.
Farias is also no stranger to college campuses. In fact, he has spent most of his career on them, speaking with young people.
Born in New Jersey, Farais attended St. Mary’s Seminary & University in Baltimore and was ordained in 1975 at age 25. He worked in parishes in the Diocese of Paterson, based in Clifton, N.J, and was appointed diocesan youth director.
Realizing he enjoyed working with young adults, Farias became chaplain at both Farleigh Dickinson University and Drew College in New Jersey in the early 1980s. At the same time, he taught theology at New Jersey’s College of Saint Elizabeth. He held those roles for nearly 30 years.
“I love being in a college environment,” Farias said during a recent visit to the Chapel of the Holy Spirit. “This is home for me.”
His work at SHU is similar to his responsibilities at the New Jersey colleges, he noted, but because SHU is a Catholic university, there are religious duties to fulfill, such as daily Mass. “I’m really looking forward to that,” Farias said, adding that he will appreciate having services in the chapel, as opposed to just any place on campus.
Farias looks forward to connecting with the community and helping with people’s needs as well as offering his commitment to social justice.
To get in touch with any of SHU’s campus ministers, visit, https://www.sacredheart.edu/faithservice/campusministry/contactus/.