Father Joe Carroll. Photo credit: my.neighbor.org.

If you think the words “hustler” and “priest” do not belong together, you would not be alone. But they describe Father Joe Carroll, something that becomes more apparent as you read through stories from his life, presented as if he was telling them to you.

As he celebrates his 80th birthday, Father Joe, with the help of Kathryn Cloward, is sharing his story in Father Joe: Life Stories of a Hustler Priest.

Read about his journey as a crippled kid in the Bronx to a beloved figure in San Diego.

Father Joe’s journey to the priesthood was unconventional, involving hijinks such as stealing police cars and baptismal certificates, and getting kicked out of the seminary.

And from a young age, he had an entrepreneurial spirit—something that in the long run would serve him well, but initially involved schemes like reselling five-finger-discounted typewriters and illegally transporting liquor across state lines to sell it.

When Father Joe was finally ordained, he wasn’t content to be one in a large group; he wanted his own ceremony, and he got it. He also invited the press—which came and aired the story on the local news.

Father Joe became a household name in 1984, after begrudgingly agreeing to participate in a commercial touting his unconventional car donation program airing after a San Diego Padres victory in the National League Championship. Why begrudgingly? The first line of the script said, “Hi, I’m Father Joe. I’m a hustler.”

Always a wheeler and dealer, Father Joe ultimately embraced his hustler side, and after time while he was heading the effort to build housing for San Diego’s homeless population, i.e., neighbors in need.

As part of that years-long effort, he oversaw construction of a million-dollar parking lot and bought an apartment building for $1.

Today it’s known as Father Joe’s Villages, an expansive development in downtown San Diego that helps the homeless not just survive, but thrive.

This is just a taste of all the stories shared by Father Joe that chronicle his life, stories.

Stay connected to Father Joe on his website at www.fatherjoehustlerpriest.com

Show comments