Sir Knight, Rev. Joseph Gillespie

December 21, 1924 – November 26, 2012


It is with great sadness that the Knights of Columbus Arizona State Council mourns the death of Brother Knight and State Chaplain Emeritus Sir Knight Rev. Joseph Gillespie. Fr. Joe was called to his eternal rest with our Lord this past Monday evening. Viewing will be on Friday morning, November 30, 2012 at 9:00 AM. Mass will follow at 11:00 a.m. Both will be held at St. Gregory’s Catholic Church located at 3424 N. 18th Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85015.


Joseph Gillespie was born in County Donegal, Ireland in 1924. He attended All Hollows College in Dublin.   Father Gillespie graduated from a seminary that trained priests for the missions, and at that time, the United States was still considered a mission territory. So was Australia. When Father was ready to be ordained, he and a buddy said they wanted to go to Australia.  The priest who made the assignments said to him "Mr. Gillespie, would you be going to Tuck-son?" Father said he sure would. Then he busily tried to find what part of Australia Tuck-son was in. In the end, he was ordained for the Diocese of Tucson on June 19, 1950.

He finally arrived in Tucson and arrived at his first parish as an assistant pastor. The pastor greeted him, said how happy he was to see the newly ordained priest. And then the pastor went on a vacation, leaving Father in charge.

Past State Deputy Richard Jeffrey has repeated the story about Father hearing confession in Spanish for the first time. He had no idea what the penitent was saying. During the next week, he asked someone to teach him how to hear confessions in Spanish. He learned to say "Tell me your sins." "Are you truly sorry?" and "Say three hail Mary’s." Needless to say, Father became the most popular confessor in the parish. Father Joe’s humor and Pastoral commitment are what he is remembered most for.

According to Past State Deputy Jeffrey recounts that he (Gillespie) was never a scholar, though he knew what he was talking about. He was never a builder, though he started a parish or two. He was not the stuff of which Bishops are made, or seminary rectors, or chancellors of a diocese. That was not what he was called to be.  What he was, was Pastoral. He was ordained to be a parish priest and that is what he was: a happy smiling competent minister to God’s people. He baptized, said Mass, gave Communion, heard confessions, witnessed marriages and administered the sacraments to the dying. And in the end, isn’t that what the people of God want in their priest?

Father Gillespie’s priestly career eventually led him to the Diocese of Phoenix. Once in Phoenix, Fr. Gillespie served as Pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Glendale, Saint Gregory in Phoenix, and Saint Elizabeth Seton in Sun City.  He was a Fourth Degree Knight and State Chaplain Emeritus for the Arizona State Council of the Knights of Columbus. 

John S. Garcia
Public Relations Director
Arizona State Council