Fr. Joe Scerbo, S.A.

February 14, 1944March 19, 2015

Fr. Joseph Scerbo, S.A. February 14, 1944-March 19, 2015 Joseph Michael Scerbo was born to Angelina and Severio (“Sam”) Scerbo on February 14, 1944 in Hoosick Falls, New York. When Joseph was young, the Scerbo family relocated to Mechanicville, New York where he attended school. His high school experience was decorated with academic, athletic, and leadership honors, including president of the student council, captain of the cross-country running team, prom king, and honors in debate, public speaking, and french horn performance. In his memoir, Always Forward (to be released in May), Joe explained, “At the core of my being, I knew God’s hand was upon me.” And so, upon his graduation from Mechanicville High School in 1961, Joseph declined full scholarships to Georgetown, Johns Hopkins, and Marquette Universities to become a priest in the Roman Catholic church. He enter the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement in July of 1961 where he experienced “the joy of Franciscan fraternity”. In 1970, Joe was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Pernicone of New York and began a public, life-long ministry in faith, reconciliation, and healing. His ongoing studies earned him a doctorate in psychotherapy from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California which, combined with his faith, provided the foundation for his future ministry. Among the many roles Fr. Joe held in his 45-year priesthood were therapist at the Institute for Christian Healing in Pennsylvania, retreat master for the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement in Garrison, New York, campus minister at Howard University and Los Angeles City College, President of the Association of Christian Therapists, Historical Advisor to the docudrama on Junipero Serra, “Ever Forward, Never Back”, and missionary to Kenya and India. Additionally, Fr. Joe’s greatest joy was to spend seventeen years serving as the Academic Dean at Trinity College of Graduate Studies where he built up programs to train and graduate 700 Christian therapists. In 1998, Fr. Joe accepted an invitation to live and work at Mission San Juan Capistrano in California as the first Franciscan friar on staff in 155 years, serving as a parish priest and leading various inter-faith projects. Offering a Franciscan presence to the Mission community was an opportunity for which he was “truly grateful and humbled”. In 2007, Fr. Dave Heney of St. Paschal Baylon in Thousand Oaks, California asked him to serve in his faith community. Of his eight years in Thousand Oaks, which would be the final years of life, Fr. Joe said, “At St. Paschal Baylon, I experienced every joy of the priesthood. I experienced an outstanding pastor in Fr. Dave Heney. Parish life at St. Paschal Baylon demonstrated what parish life can be like in its most dynamic state. To witness this zeal, this dynamism, this outpouring of love for Christ and the Eucharist brings tremendous life to my own heart.” During this time Fr. Joe also served on the Ventura County Interfaith Council. After a two year battle with pancreatic cancer, during which he received an outpouring of support and care from his community at St. Paschal Baylon, Fr. Joseph Scerbo entered eternal life on March 19, 2015, the Feast of St. Joseph. He was 71 years. To his extended family, friends, and the many who knew him, Fr. Joe leaves a legacy of joy, finding God’s will in every moment, and blessedness. Within the final words of his memoir, he reminds us: “Our journey on this earth and our quest for happiness is rooted in our availability to God’s will and His call to human relationship. Sometimes following God’s will makes us uncomfortable. Sometimes His will for us makes others feel uncomfortable. Yet in sickness and in health, triumphs and failures, childhood and all that follows, God has a Divine Will for every moment of our every day. It is up to us to say, ‘Lord, open the doors you want to open, close the doors you don’t want to open, and place me in the center of your perfect will.’ It is up to us to draw as close to Him as possible, to embrace the Eucharist and a desire to know and imitate Christ, so we are open to receive the graces poured into our hearts from His Chalice.” For more information about Fr. Joe's memoir, visit

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to a charitable organization founded by Fr. Scerbo, Franciscan Mission Friar, Inc., c/o Justin M. Alvarez, 24005 Ventura Boulevard, Calabasas, CA 91302.


  • Visitation

    Tuesday, March 24, 2015

  • Funeral Mass

    Wednesday, March 25, 2015


Fr. Joe Scerbo, S.A.

have a memory or condolence to add?

Thor Laizans

April 18, 2020

One time at mission sjc i was laying adobe blocks. I had my hammer in hand swinging down to set the block. At that moment Father Joe had snuck up on me and yelled GOOD AFTERNOON Thor!!! startled I turned my head and my hammer slammed down on my finger breaking the tip of the bone off. To this day every time i pick up the guitar i think of father Joe when that bone in my finger tip starts to grind. I remember all the funny things we talked about on our early morning walks and his smile. Miss you father Joe.

January 8, 2016

Fr. Joe will be long remembered. A saintly man who led and inspired many by his joy and love of God. He was a mentor, confidante, and friend who was loved and will be greatly missed.

Sr. Mary Frances Seeley, OSF

Bishop Francisco Betancourt FCR

March 29, 2015

Father Joe was a reflection of the love of God in our midst. How blessed we all are to have walked the journey with him. We will miss him for a short time, then we will dance with him for all eternity. We thank our God for his life.

Fr. Michael Nicosia

March 26, 2015

Joe was one of the Atonement Friars who celebrated my gifts and helped me to celebrate God's call to serve. Blessings be upon him as he richly blessed us all. (a former friar-in-formation and member of The Xavier Company)

March 25, 2015

Father Joe: You were always a joy to those of us privileged to be part of your life. And what a life it was!! You were definitely in the right vocation. We will miss you, but will keep you close in our thoughts and deeds, as "What would Father Joe do/say?" often crosses our minds. I hope that one day you may be welcoming us into Heaven. Always Forward. God Bless, Tom and Linda Travis

Mr/Mrs C. Gildea

March 23, 2015

Fr. Joe you loved the Mission San Juan Capistrano as much as the people of Capistrano loved you. Rest in peace of the Lord.
Doris & Chuck Gildea

Ken Stofft

March 23, 2015

Via con Dios, Joseph.

Marlen Chahin

March 22, 2015

Fr. Joe: your joy, love, way of being and your teachings will always remain on my hearth!

Marlen Chahin

March 22, 2015

Fr Joe, your joy, way of being and your teachings will remain in my hearth!

March 22, 2015

Many years have passed since Fr. Joe escorted a group of Canadians to France on a pilgrimage to Lourdes - I was inspired by his grace and gentle nature. May his soul rest in peace.
Fran Boone, London,On Canada.