Rev. Joseph Pedersen, C.S.C. of Waterloo, Iowa, serves Notre Dame as the rector of Siegfried Hall. He has an extensive history with the university, receiving undergraduate degrees in philosophy and theology, a Master of Arts in theology from the university’s Echo Graduate Service Program, and a Master of Divinity. Lovingly called “Father-Deacon Joe” by parts of a Siegfried community still getting used to his new title, Fr. Joe enjoys hiking, spending time outdoors, fishing, painting and baking (before it was a quarantine fad) when not ministering to his Siegfried Ramblers.
What inspired you to pursue the path of ordination?
For as long as I can remember, there has been a tug in my life towards serving others. I didn’t know exactly what that would mean for a long time — even through college and beyond — but during and after college there were moments where I would have some clarity to see that God was calling me to ministry — especially to religious life and ordained ministry. If there was one final catalyst, it would be when I realized while teaching high school that the students I was educating needed a kind of healing in a different way than I could give them as a high school teacher. What they needed was the deeper, sacramental healing a teacher couldn’t necessarily give on their own.
What was it like holding your first Mass with your dorm, Siegfried?
It was awesome. Since I became rector a year ago, hall mass has been one of my favorite parts of this role. I just love looking out at all the Ramblers gathered together because the mass reveals the love the guys have for each other in a beautiful way. As the leader of the Siegfried Hall community, it is really special to be able to lead the community in prayer.
What role do you see the priesthood, and the Church in general, holding in the modern world? Has this perspective shifted in the wake of COVID-19 and the George Floyd protests?
I think in the modern world the priesthood has to be fulfilling a role of service, first and foremost. Priests have to be at the service of the people of God — bringing God’s love and mercy by way of serving others. Part of the way that would manifest itself is by helping to reveal God’s love for the world in the midst of difficult times. Certainly, in the wake of the coronavirus and death of George Floyd, I think my call as a priest is to reveal God’s love in the midst of this strife — that God is with us not only in spite of our brokenness, but through our brokenness.