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Father Joseph Voor O'50
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Conferral speech for the Distinguished Alumnus Award given at the 2013 Saint Meinrad Alumni Reunion

Presented July 30, 2013


Delivered by past Alumni Association Board President, Fr. Donald Goetz O'68.

Bernie NiehausTonight, we gather especially to honor Fr. Joseph Voor, a member of Saint Meinrad’s ordination class of 1950.

Fr. Voor has been a priest in the Archdiocese of Louisville for 63 years. Over those six decades, he has built an exemplary record of service.

But it is not his longevity that we are here to celebrate. Rather, we celebrate a man whose reputation is characterized by his integrity, his service to others, and his devotion to and love for the Church. 

"Fr. Voor’s years of ministry and service as a priest, teacher, pastor and national leader have been marked by his humility,” said one nominator. "One might say that in each of these venues of ministry, his fingerprints remain on many projects and accomplishments for which he never sought credit.”

Fr. Voor – or Fr. Joe, as he is known by his many relatives – developed strong family values at a young age. His mother died of pneumonia shortly after giving birth to him in 1925, and he and his father went to live with his relatives, Christine Lampe and her six children. 

After Mr. Lampe died when Fr. Voor was just 4 years old, he went to live with an uncle and aunt, Mr. and Mrs. Bernard H. Voor Sr. and their six children. Then in 1943, Fr. Voor’s father was killed in an accident. Fortunately, Fr. Voor always had his extended family to fall back on and to look to for support. 

One indication of that family bond is the stole that he wears when he presides at family Masses during holidays or for special occasions such as weddings or baptisms. It is embroidered with the names of every member of the Voor family – more than 100 of them!

"Fr. Joe is like the rock of our extended family,” said one of Fr. Voor’s family members in a nomination letter. "Always present, ready, willing and able to be the spiritual light that we all need.”

Fr. Voor grew up in St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Louisville and was educated at St. Xavier High School for two years. He then attended St. Mary’s College and Saint Meinrad Seminary. He was ordained in 1950, and his first parish assignment was at the Cathedral of the Assumption in Louisville.

Within a year, he was sent to The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., to begin work on a doctorate in psychology. 

In 1956, Fr. Voor joined the faculty at Bellarmine University in Louisville as the university’s first professor of psychology. During his 20 years there, he served as director of the guidance office, director of housing, director of the school’s Upward Bound program and as a chair in the psychology department, all while teaching a full load of classes.

In 1972, Fr. Voor returned from a sabbatical at the University of Michigan to help establish the parish council system for the Archdiocese of Louisville, a structure that is still in place today.

At the same time he was launching the parish council system, Fr. Voor was elected the first president of the National Organization for the Continuing Education of Roman Catholic Clergy, Inc. He also served as Director of Continuing Education of Clergy of the Archdiocese of Louisville from 1971 to 1982.

One nominator called him "a pioneer in the post-Second Vatican Council movement to address the continuing education of clergy.” Another nominator described Fr. Joe this way: "While maintaining a pastor’s heart for pastoral care, he has also been engaged in various forms of ongoing formation and education. He is a teacher at heart.”

Fr. Voor’s service also includes his work with the Worldwide Marriage Encounter Council since 1978 – both as a team priest and in local leadership.

Fr. Voor also served as president of the National Guidance Council in 1973. He has been a prison chaplain for more than 20 years and has also been a chaplain for the Serra Club of Louisville and the Knights of St. John.

Additionally, he served as a member of the health panel for a number of years in the Archdiocese of Louisville and as a local representative to the National Federation of Priests’ Councils.

Among his accolades are an honorary degree from the Knights of St. John and the Pope John XXIII Medal from the National Organization for Continuing Education for Clergy.

Since his retirement in 1995, Fr. Voor has served as the senior associate at St. Brigid and St. James parishes in Louisville.

Today, he remains active as a national committee member of the Worldwide Marriage Encounter. He continues to stay physically active, playing golf and tennis at least once a week. 

But perhaps more important than the awards and the accomplishments I can list here are these words from a family member: "He lives his faith in everything that he does. His life is a lesson in spreading the Gospel.”

Please join me in congratulating the 22nd recipient of the Saint Meinrad Distinguished Alumnus Award – Fr. Joseph Voor.


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