Joel A. Campbell, OFM
1924 – 2007
Fr. Joel A. Campbell, OFM, was born on July 21, 1924, in Media, Pa. In 1937, he entered St. Joseph’s Seraphic Seminary in Callicoon, N.Y., which he attended for high school and his first two years of college.
Fr. Joel was received into the Province’s novitiate in 1943 at St. Bonaventure Friary in Paterson, N.J., and professed first vows there the following year. In1947, he professed his final vows at Holy Name College in Washington, D.C. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1950 at Mt. St. Sepulchre, the Franciscan Monastery in Washington. During his years of formation, Fr. Joel pursued graduate studies in sociology during the summer at St. Bonaventure University, Allegany, N.Y., receiving his master’s degree the year before his ordination.
The rest of Fr. Joel’s long and active Franciscan life was devoted to the ministry of education in Western New York. Following ordination, he — along with many of his classmates — was assigned to the newly dedicated Bishop Timon High School in Buffalo, N.Y. In those years, there were over 30 friars on the faculty.
During his 17 years at Timon, Fr. Joel held a number of positions including teacher, spiritual director, director of guidance, assistant principal and finally, in 1964, principal. As director of guidance, he helped initiate advanced placement classes in the curriculum, making Timon the first diocesan high school to offer AP classes for college credit.
In 1967, Fr. Joel was assigned to St. Bonaventure University, initially serving as assistant to then university president Fr. Reginald Redlon, OFM, during a time of campus unrest. After several years in the counseling center, he began working in 1975 as a recruiter and counselor for university admissions, serving more than two decades in that capacity. Co-workers recall Fr. Joel’s boundless energy as he crisscrossed the roads of Western New York, seemingly fueled only by cigarettes, coffee, pie and ice cream.
Besides counseling countless young people during those many years, Fr. Joel brought a caring pastoral presence to the administrative staff at Hopkins Hall.
In 1997, he returned to Buffalo and the renamed Bishop Timon-St. Jude High School. Remaining active to the very end of his life as the only full-time Franciscan remaining at Timon, Fr. Joel had numerous responsibilities. He served as school chaplain, counselor, member of the board of trustees and moderator of alumni — playing a role in the school’s fund-raising and advancement efforts. Very attentive to the Timon alumni network, he seldom missed a wake in South Buffalo.
Fr. Joel died Feb. 1, 2007, in his room at Christ the King Seminary Friary in East Aurora, N.Y. He was 82 years old, a professed friar for 62 years and a priest for 57 years.