Joseph Grenier was born into a Franco-American family in North Dartmouth, MA in 1931. He is one of four children whose first language was French. He attended Sacred Heart Elementary School in New Bedford, MA, where he was taught in French and English. In 1946 he began Assumption High School in Worcester, MA. In 1950 he began college then in 1952 he entered the novitiate of the Assumptionist Fathers and after a year of novitiate returned to Assumption College and went on to graduate in 1955 with a BA in Philosophy.
He then went to Rome to the Pontifical University of St. Thomas (at that time called the Angelicum) to study Theology in view of the priesthood. He was ordained on December 20, 1958 in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. He completed seminary in 1959 with a Licenciate in Sacred Theology (STL) and then returned to the United States to begin his priestly ministry.
Father Grenier first taught Theology at Assumption College from 1959 to 1963, then taught in the Assumptionists' minor seminary in Bury, Quebec for three years. In 1966 he was transferred to the Assumptionist Provincial House in New York City, where he remained until 1980. During that period he was Provincial Secretary for the Order and spent two years during the 1960's in Rome doing secretarial work in view of a General Chapter of renewal for the Order. Also during that period he earned a Ph.D. in Theology (with a focus on modern Church history) from Fordham University in New York City. His dissertation was on an aspect of the history of his religious order, and in view of that he spent another year in Rome doing research at the general house for his order. He became involved in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal both in Rome and New York City, and was leader of the Fordham Charismatic Prayer Community for several years. In 1978 he was appointed pastor of a Our Lady of Esperanza, a Spanish-language parish in upper Manhattan.
In 1980 Father Grenier left the canonical ministry of the Roman Catholic Church in order to marry. He and his wife had met at the Fordham Charismatic Community in 1975 and they worked together on the pastoral team for two years. They were married in 1980 in the Episcopal Church and lived in Queens, New York for six years while he worked at Fordham University at Lincoln Center, then in Real Estate in Queens. In 1986, he and his wife Cait moved with their child and Joseph's elderly mother to live in rural Pennsylvania from where they extended their ministry.
During that time they began working in a ministry to other Roman Catholic priests and women who were discerning their futures (Good Tidings Ministry). This ministry grew as the years progressed to become full-time work. Father Joe also worked in Real Estate, computer programming, administrative work for non-profit organizations, as chaplain for a community hospice and was a marriage counselor and counselor to troubled teens and families at risk, counseling in English, Spanish, and French. Throughout his priestly life he was a spiritual director for many.
The foundation and history of The Celtic Christian Church can be read in more detail here: CCC History. In 1996 Father Grenier was elected bishop of St. Ciaran's Fellowship and was consecrated to the episcopacy within the Celtic Christian Communion on April 6, 1997. The Celtic Christian Communion was dissolved in April 1998, but Bishop Grenier continued his ministry in the Fellowship, which was then renamed the "Celtic Christian Church."
Bishop Grenier was fluent in French, Spanish, and Italian. He became fluent in Latin during his seminary years because all courses were taught in Latin (they are now taught in various modern languages).
Bishop Grenier and his wife have one adult daughter. He lived with his wife in their home in Pennsylvania, from where he was shepherd to the "Celtic Christian Church" as well as foster father to many children and youth. He and his wife, Cait worked at Good Tidings, a specific ministry of spiritual direction to those in particular populations on the fringe of the Church, i.e. those sexually abused by clergy, and priests transitioning from the clerical state or transferring into another Church.
He was most interested in studying Celtic Christian spirituality, theology, mysticism, and church history, as well as the Irish language. He enjoyed woodworking and carpentry. His leisure time was filled with walks through the wooded area where his home is located, spending time with family and friends, reading science fiction and enjoying Celtic and classical music. His greatest human joy was his family, his wife and beloved daughter.
Bishop Grenier passed through the veil quite suddenly and unexpectedly on January 19, 2016. Our Church mourns the loss of a holy shepherd.
Apostolic Succession of the Most Rev. Joseph A. Grenier
Consecration of Bishop Grenier
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