Mike Aquilina

Father Joe, Rest in Peace

Friday August 29th 2008, 4:21 pm

I ask your prayers for the repose of the soul of my friend Father Joe Linck, historian and (until recently) rector of St. John Fisher Seminary in Stamford, Connecticut. Father Joe died today after fighting an aggressive cancer for a year and eight months.

I’ve known Father Joe since he was a newly ordained priest serving as a university chaplain here in Pittsburgh. He later went on to teach at St. Vincent Seminary and Franciscan University. He also served in parish ministry in the Diocese of Bridgeport. Father Joe was the author of Fully Instructed and Vehemently Influenced: Catholic Preaching in Anglo-Colonial America.

Those who made the St. Paul Center‘s 2005 pilgrimage to Rome knew Father Joe as an outstanding confessor and preacher. It was heavenly for a bunch of patristics nerds to be with him for a week — in Rome! — for the feasts of Saints Irenaeus, Peter and Paul, Cyril of Alexandria, and the Roman Martyrs. (His master’s thesis was “The Trinitarian Dimension of Eucharistic Communion with God in the Adversus Haereses of Irenaeus of Lyons.” One of his favorite courses to teach was “Patristic Spirituality.”)

Father Joe had a remarkable spirit of service. In fact, I don’t recall that the man never said no to anything I asked of him. He was one of my regular sources on Church history when I was in newspaper work, and I did make a nuisance of myself. But he always made interruptions seem like a pleasure, not at all an inconvenience.

I miss him already. Most of all, I’ll miss his ability to make me laugh myself silly. I could use that today.

Please pray, too, for Fr. Joe’s mom and dad, who are mourning the loss of their only child.

P.S. How could I have forgotten to mention … Father Joe wrote the great foreword to my book The Mass of the Early Christians, and he plunked a very generous blurb on the jacket of The Resilient Church: The Glory, the Shame, & the Hope for Tomorrow.