Father Joe's Biography
The following biography appeared in Garabandal - The Message of Our Lady of Mont Carmel. It appeared in the January-March 1987 issue, and was written by the Managing Editor, Barry Hanratty:
He Always Loved Our Lady
On August 31, 1986, Fr. Joseph A. Pelletier, a.a., died in Worcester, Massachusetts, of a disease that attacked both his physical and mental faculties. He was 74 years old. Fr. Pelletier will always be remembered by those interested in Garabandal for the enormous contribution he made in furthering the cause mostly by his writings but in other ways as well. His best known book Our Lady Comes to Garabandal has gone through five printings and is one of the two most popular on the events. He is also internationally known for two books he wrote on Fatima, The Sun Danced at Fatima, a best-seller, and Fatima Hope of the World.
On April 24, 1912, in Winchendon, Massachusetts, Joseph Alfred Pelletier first saw the light of day and was one of eight children (three died as infants) born to Elizabeth (McGlinchey) and Dr. Alfred Pelletier. Dr. Pelletier, a country doctor for more than 50 years was dearly loved by his patients. He would tell them that taking care of their soul was more important than their bodily health and would send them to see a priest. Every evening the family gathered around the dining room table to recite the rosary together. (on our knees - G. A. Pelletier)
Young Joseph was a normal, healthy, well-adjusted boy with a lively sense of humor who enjoyed sports as well as his academic studies. He played basketball in both high school and college but his best sport was tennis. The Pelletiers had their own tennis court at home which gave him the opportunity to play often and hone his skills.
At the age of 14, his mother died and Dr. Pelletier remarried. There would seven more Pelletiers (one again died in infancy) from this second marriage making a total of 15.
Joseph went to Assumption Prep, the preparatory school to Assumption College in Worcester. In those days, all courses at the school were taught in French and while the Pelletiers did speak some French at home, Joe was tutored by his sister, Betty, in order to pass the rigid entrance examination. Later he would become proficient in Italian and have a more than adequate command of Spanish.
Upon graduation from Assumption Prep, he entered the college and with the exception of a few years in the mid 50's when he was associate pastor at St. Anne's parish in Fiskdale, Massachusetts, while a reconstruction program was being completed at the college that had been severely damaged by a tornado in 1953, he was to spend his whole life associated with this one institution.
Call to the Priesthood
Young Joe Pelletier was an altar boy for many years, but thought more about following in his father's footsteps and pursue a medical profession than enter the religious life. However, he did have a special devotedness that his college classmates noticed and they referred to his as “Holy Joe”.
Then one weekend during his senior year, he came home and said he felt he had a vocation to the priesthood. He began to inquire and considered the Jesuits since he had had an uncle who was a Jesuit, the first American Jesuit to die in India. Another uncle (Rev. Monsignor Joseph McGlinchey, his mother's brother) who headed the Propagation of the Faith in the Archdiocese of Boston for many years, was a secular priest. He finally decided on the Augustinian Assumptionists, an Order that had its origins in France (and who founded Assumption Prep and College in 1904).
In 1937, he was ordained priest in Rome where he received his Baccalaureate and Licentiate in sacred Theology at the Angelicum Pontifical Institute. He as lo received a Master's Degree in Sociology from Boston College. At various times during his tenure at Assumption (College), he taught Sociology and Religion, was athletic director, tennis coach, and dean of Students. (His name is also on the Founder's Wall at the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, MA, having been designated by Assumption College as the most influential individual in the development of Assumption College basketball)
Fr. Pelletier was always interested in Marian apparitions, especially Fatima and through his writings and research became an authority. He was also Diocesan Director of the Blue Army in Worcester. His involvement in Garabandal started around 1968-1969 when he first heard of the events. He immediately began to make an in-depth study, carefully examining all the documents he could lay his hands on and interviewing the visionaries and other key people associated with the events. He soon became convinced that the apparitions were authentic and with encouragement and financial support from Joey Lomangino and the New York Garabandal Center, he published God Speaks at Garabandal in 1970, followed by Our Lady Comes to Garabandal in 1971. He was also a major contributing writer for NEEDLES magazine (now GARABANDAL) and authored leaflets and booklets on the events. In addition to his writings, he lectured on Garabandal and for many years accompanied Joey Lomangino on his annual tours of Ireland and other countries.
From 1970 to 1972, he was spiritual director for The Workers of Our Lady of Carmel yearly pilgrimage to the shrines of Europe which always included a visit to Garabandal.
In 1974, Fr. Pelletier's active involvement with Assumption College ended and devoted most of his time to writing and research. He managed to complete the manuscript for another book on Garabandal, which was not published.
In 1975, he suffered a heart attack and from then on his health was never the same again. In the early 1980's, he began to decline and in 1985 was hospitalized on six different occasions suffering from fainting spells (twice he passed out while celebrating Mass). In June, 1986, he took a turn for the worse and was admitted to St. Vincent's Hospital where he remained, with the exception of a short period at a nursing home, until his death.
Fr. Joseph Pelletier will best be remembered as an author and anyone who has ever read any of his works....sensed the mark of a true scholar who knew his subject well. .............
After Garabandal, Father Joe became aware of and keenly interested in the apparitions at Medugorje, in Yugoslavia, which first occurred in 1982. Father Joe, with his customary thoroughness, researched the events exhaustively, despite his failing health. In 1985, he published The Queen of Peace Visits Medugorje, and had a second manuscript in preparation at the time of his death.
Among the many other publications written and published by Father Joe are the following:
- A New Pentecost - Renewal in the Holy Spirit, 1974
- Exciting Fatima News - recently Revealed in Sister Lucy's Letters, 1975
- The Immaculate Heart of Mary, 1976
- I Am the Bread of Life - Healing through the Eucharist, 1977
Father Joe was an avid sports fan as well as being an excellent tennis player. In college, he was captain of the tennis team and later, as a faculty member, coached the high school and college tennis teams.
At one time Father Joe was named the college's Director of Athletics. During his tenure, he hired Andy Laska, a Holy Cross basketball star and Bob Cousy team mate, as Assumption College's full-time basketball coach. Previously, basketball coaches were professors who did the coaching as an added duty. As a result of Father Joe's decision, Assumption's basketball fortunes changed dramatically for the better. Coach Laska brought Assumption to the finals of the NCAA's Division Two Men's Final Four on a record number of occasions.
Coach Laska nominated Father Joe to the Basketball Hall of Fame where his name is inscribed on the Hall's Founder's Wall.
Note Robert (Bob) Cousy's name (as Boston College coach) below Father Joe's
Assumption College has instituted the Rev. Joseph Pelletier, a.a. Memorial Award which is presented in memory of its former Director of Athletics. It is presented to a person outside of the Athletic Department for service above and beyond to the Department.
Father Joe received the College’s Outstanding Alumnus Award in 1980 for his many academic and athletic contributions to Assumption College. Father Joe served the College for 37 years in many capacities (1937-74), including professor of sociology and religion, athletic director, tennis coach, dean of students and director of development. As athletic director, he hired Andy Laska to coach the basketball team full time, when before all coaches were professors volunteering their time. This decision proved successful, with Laska coaching the team to several successful NCAA Tournaments. Father Joe is considered to be one of the most influential individuals in the development of Assumption basketball. He was inducted into Assumption’s Alumni/Athletics Hall of Fame in 1974 and Laska nominated him to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, where his name is inscribed on the Founders’ Wall.