Take 5 with Father: the parish is our family
To commemorate the Year of St. Joseph, we are doubling up on Monsignor Josephs in this feature. During our visit to Blessed Sacrament Parish in Arlington, we spoke with Monsignor Joseph Pemberton, the pastor since 2016, and Monsignor Joseph Scantlin, the pastor emeritus, who served as pastor from 1995 - 2016. Msgr. Scantlin still hears confessions at the parish.
NAMESAKES: When Msgr. Scantlin was born at St. Joseph Hospital, the medical staff wasn’t certain he would survive. When he recovered, a nurse suggested his parents, who had not selected a name, call him Joseph, after the patron of Fort Worth’s Catholic hospital.
Msgr. Pemberton was named for Father Joseph Erbrick, a priest who was a good friend of the family.
PATRON SAINT: Both priests call St. Joseph their favorite saint. Msgr. Pemberton includes a daily prayer to St. Joseph in his morning prayers, and he has instituted a monthly votive Mass for St. Joseph at Blessed Sacrament Parish.
BORN AND RAISED: Both men attended diocesan Catholic schools before entering seminary.
ORDINATION: Msgr. Scantlin was ordained May 23, 1959, and Msgr. Pemberton was ordained April 29, 1977 — both at St. Rita Parish in Fort Worth.
BLESSINGS OF BEING A PRIEST: Msgr. Pemberton said, “Overall, the people are very warm and caring. I always am inspired by their faith. Their own spirituality helps us as priests grow in our spirituality…. I love saying Mass and the sacraments. To watch the people and see the energy of parishioners, their excitement about wanting to grow in their faith is an inspiration to any priest.”
Msgr. Scantlin said, “Our primary ministry is to the people that we serve, that we live with — we enter into their lives, their needs, their joys, their hearts.”
WORKING TITLE: Monsignor is a title bestowed on a priest due to exceptional service to the Church. Bishop Kevin Vann, the predecessor to Bishop Olson, honored Msgr. Scantlin in 2008 and Msgr. Pemberton in 2013. Msgr. Pemberton joked it was Bishop Vann’s last act “as he was literally walking out the door” to his new assignment as Bishop of Orange, Calif.
The two priests agree the title means more to the parishioners than to the priest. “They take great pride in knowing the pastor is a monsignor, more so than the monsignor himself,” they laughed together.
BUILDING IN PROGRESS: When Msgr. Scantlin was pastor, he emphasized strong community in a parish. Msgr. Pemberton followed him at Holy Family Parish and at Blessed Sacrament and describes him as “easy to follow because of his style of leadership. He invites, encourages [parishioners] to take on key roles in the parish. He believes in consensus and sharing responsibility and authority with the people of the parish.”
PARISH PEOPLE: “We’re blessed here at Most Blessed Sacrament with tremendous leaders, men and women who love the parish and want to do everything they can to give energy to the parish. They love serving here and being here,” said the current pastor.
AGING GRACEFULLY: “As I’ve gotten older, the joy and gift of saying Mass has become more and more important….I just have a deeper appreciation of it, that awesome role of standing at the altar, praying Mass with the people that have gathered there,” said Msgr. Pemberton.
A BIG FAMILY: St. Joseph is a good model for priests because “he took care of his family. That’s what a diocesan priest does,” said Msgr. Scantlin. “This parish is our family,” explained Msgr. Pemberton.
Msgr. Scantlin added, “You celebrate with them, you cry with them, you share their lives, their good fortune and their hurts. All those things that families do.”
A CENTURY OF PRIESTHOOD: In their 62 and 44 years of priesthood respectively, Msgr. Scantlin and Msgr. Pemberton have accumulated some wisdom to share.
Msgr. Scantlin said he’s strived to teach “fidelity to the life of Church, to the people of the Church. Be faithful to who you are and what God has called you to do.”
Msgr. Pemberton shared his intent at each parish, “If I have brought you a little closer to the Lord in how I served you and how I pastored you, then I feel I’ve done what God has called me to do.”