Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta


Father Joseph Ware, Retired Priest From Atlanta, Dies

Published June 2, 2005

Father Joseph F. Ware, 82, died in Savannah on May 31 after a long illness. A priest of the Archdiocese of Atlanta, Father Ware was a native of Savannah and had lived in retirement in his hometown since 1991.

A wake was held at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Savannah on Thursday, June 2. The funeral Mass was to be held at 2 p.m. on Friday, June 3, at the Cathedral.

Joseph Frederick Ware was born in Savannah on Aug. 3, 1922, to John D. and Mary Ware, with four brothers and a sister. He attended Catholic schools growing up and later entered St. Charles Seminary in Catonsville, Md., and from there completed studies at St. Mary’s Seminary, Baltimore, and St. Mary’s Seminary, Roland Park, Md.

He was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Savannah-Atlanta in the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist by Bishop Emmett M. Walsh of Charleston on May 8, 1948. He celebrated his first solemn Mass at Sacred Heart Church, Savannah, where he had been baptized two weeks after his birth.

Father Ware served as assistant at the Savannah Cathedral from 1948 to 1950. For the next 40 years he served in what is now the Archdiocese of Atlanta in the following parishes: as an assistant at St. Thomas More in Decatur and St. John the Evangelist in Hapeville, then as pastor in the following parishes: Sacred Heart in Milledgeville, Holy Spirit in Atlanta, Sacred Heart in Atlanta, Sts. Peter and Paul in Decatur, and St. Elizabeth Seton in Manchester. His last assignment was at St. Peter in LaGrange from 1978 to 1991, where he led the church during a decade of growth and the acquisition of new property to build a larger church on its current site on Lafayette Parkway.

His silver anniversary was celebrated in Savannah at the Cathedral where his friend, the late Msgr. Daniel Bourke, had delivered the homily and said that he’d known him since he was a seminarian and recalled his love of all things Irish. “Even at that early date, he had a remarkable love not only for the Church but also for the land of his forebearers. He was manifesting even then an interest in Ireland and her history and her language that put many of us native-born Irish priests to shame. That interest he has continued to the present day so that his visits to Ireland are frequent, his knowledge for the Gaelic language and history extensive. I noted that he rode in the last St. Patrick’s Day Parade as chaplain to the Grand Marshal.”

He went on to say that Georgia had never had a more saintly and orthodox priest. “He expounds the work of God in his parish church with zeal, with clarity, and he does so effectively. He knows that, in the words of St. Paul, a priest is taken from among men by God as Aaron was, and that his first duty as a priest of Jesus Christ is to act as a mediator between God and His people and offer up sacrifices to God for himself and his people… The love of God overflowing in his soul makes him a compassionate priest, taking care of the needy and the disconsolate.”

Father Ware celebrated his golden jubilee in 1998 at St. Frances Cabrini Parish, Savannah, where he lived in retirement from 1991 until last year. He took as active a role as his health allowed in the life of the parish. After serving as parade chaplain for many years, Father Ware was elected Grand Marshal of the Savannah St. Patrick’s Day Parade in 2004, an honor that indeed gave him great pleasure.