Joseph Goldsmith: Asked serious questions of God
Deacon Joseph Francisco Goldsmith should feel right at home when he celebrates his first Mass at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Richmond on Sunday, June 3, the day after ordination to the priesthood.
The Cathedral has been his adopted parish home since 1996 when he came to Richmond to be an undergraduate at Virginia Commonwealth University.
The fourth of five children, Deacon Goldsmith was born Aug. 28, 1978 in Oklahoma City. His parents, Rafael and Mary Alice, now live in Manassas. His father is in formation for the permanent diaconate in the Diocese of Arlington.
“My dad is retired Air Force so I lived in many places until I was 7 when he retired in Fairfax,” Deacon Goldsmith told The Catholic Virginian.”
After graduating from Pope Paul VI High School in Fairfax in 1996, he came to Richmond to enter VCU. He had received a scholarship for a degree in chemical engineering and planned to minor in business.
“I always went to church every Sunday,” Deacon Goldsmith said. “The Cathedral was my home church. I loved it and I was involved in some of the campus ministry activities even though I wasn’t living out my faith very well.”
In the fall of 1999 he feels he heard God say to him “I want you to be a priest.” It was upsetting.
“I was not happy at all,” he says. “But I thought if God is going to tell me how to live my life, I needed to get to know Him better.
“Everything that happened afterwards was really important,” he continued. “For the first time in my life I was determined to find out what God wanted for me. I either had to stop listening because that at least was a possibility or I had to start listening to God and find out.”
In his junior year at VCU he felt his faith grow and this prompted him to get more involved in campus ministry and a group called Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship.
“I started seeing my life differently and I had confidence to ask ‘Who am I and what do I want?’”
Deacon Goldsmith graduated from VCU in 2001 with a B.S. degree in chemical engineering. He chose to remain in Richmond.
“I loved the city and loved the Cathedral and the priests I knew,” he said.
He started his own business as a computer consultant which he had for five years.
“I lived with friends, dated off and on and the whole time the question of priesthood was still on my mind,” he said.
He had conversations about it with some friends as well as Father Michael Renninger, then Vicar for Vocations, who asked him some questions.
The idea of giving up marriage and a relationship was among the topics that was critical to any decision he made.
“I had to come to terms with that and I did,” Deacon Goldsmith said. I became convinced of two things.
“I would only marry if I found the right person. And I knew God wanted me to be happy today.”
With those two convictions in mind, he decided to apply to the diocese’s priestly formation program even though he wondered if he would be accepted.
“I found out that they might turn me down,” he said. “The Church has to say ‘yes’ too.”
When he was accepted in March 2006, he knew he had done the right thing. This was confirmed by the support of his parents who he says are “very supportive.”
Looking back, he recalls his mother’s response when he first spoke about the possibility of priesthood.
“When I finally told my parents, my mom said ‘You need to ask God for the grace to accept it.’
“I told her, ‘I don’t want to pray for the grace to accept what I don’t want.’
“In all due credit to my mom, she was right — but about eight years too early.”
He entered Theological College of Catholic University of America in late summer 2006. Parishes where he has served are Incarnation, Charlottesville, summer of 2007; St. Mary’s, Richmond, summer of 2008; Blessed Sacrament, Harrisonburg, where he had a 15-month pastoral ministry assignment; and Holy Trinity, Norfolk, during the summer of 2011.
In addition, while in the seminary he has been active in ministry at St. Matthew’s Cathedral in Washington the past two years.
“It’s time for me to take everything I’ve been given and give it back,” Deacon Goldsmith said.
“I have requested to be in a parish with Hispanic ministry and to serve the Latinos in our diocese.”
The newly ordained Father Goldsmith will celebrate his first Mass on Sunday, June 3, at 11 a.m. at the Cathedral.
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