Father Joe leads Holy Spirit into the future

father joe

By Traci Chapman

For the first time in more than 17 years, Mustang’s Holy Spirit Catholic Church has a new voice and a change in its spiritual leadership.

Father Joe Jacobi was transferred to the Mustang parish in January. He took over a congregation led by Father Jim Greiner, who recently retired after more than 17 years at Holy Spirit.

Jacobi himself has extensive experience, not only in his service but in his travels. But, although he has traveled throughout the world since his invocation, Jacobi said it’s gratifying that he really has remained close to his roots. It was there his parents first instill a faith that would grow to become the primary passion and meaning of his life, the father said.

“My parents are people of deep faith who planted the seeds,” Jacobi said. “We also had lots of good friends who were priests and who came to the house often – I saw what they did and how they helped others.”

Jacobi’s journey began in Lone Grove, Okla., where the soon to be 50-year-old priest grew up. The oldest of five, part of Jacobi’s earliest inspiration came from his twin sister, Maureen, who died when the children were five years old.

“She has always been with me, always been an inspiration,” he said.

Although he was faithful in those early years, it wasn’t until he was a sophomore in college he first decided to pursue the ministry.

“I went to the seminary when I was about 20 or 21,” Jacobi said. “It was there – in the classes, the formation, I realized the chance to serve.”

It was a nine year process, Jacobi said. Part of that included an internship at Christ the King in Oklahoma City, where he met someone who had been part of Holy Spirit’s past – Father Gerald Mayfield, who was Mustang’s pastor in 1996-1997, Jacobi said.

“I knew him really well and that would later come back to me when I came to Holy Spirit,” he said.

Ordained in 1991, Father Jacobi has served at several parishes in the metropolitan area. While the church is his primary focus, lessons learned from his parents – now living in Norman – are still a large part of his life. And not just where his faith is concerned, he said.

“My mom was a PE director and by 8 or 9 I knew just about every sport,” Jacobi said. “I enjoy sports a lot – that was my mom’s gift to me.”

As he gets to know his Mustang parishioners and settles into a routine here, he is looking very much toward the future – something that is very bright and full of changes for Holy Spirit, he said.

“There is, of course, the matter of the church building – money has been raised for that and we are looking at plans and how we want to move forward with that,” Jacobi said. “We hope to be into a new building in perhaps three to five years.”

The new building is something literally 30 years in the making. Built in 1986, Holy Spirit’s long-time home was built as a temporary church, which became permanent. With more than 600 families attending Holy Spirit, it’s time to seriously look at new quarters, Jacobi said.

“We want to do more, to reach out, and having more space is an essential part of that,” he said.

Reaching out is a large part of the father’s philosophy, something exemplified by Holy Spirit’s incorporation of Spanish masses. Fluent himself in Spanish, part of Jacobi’s travels included two months in 1989 he spent in Monterrey Mexico, learning the language. Now, all of these years later, he believes making sure Spanish-speaking parishioners feel at home and invested in the church is essential.

“That’s something about Holy Spirit I really liked from the start – everyone is very friendly, they welcomed everyone and both the English and Spanish speaking parishioners know this is their spiritual home,” Jacobi said. “There is a harmony.”

That harmony will help Jacobi and his parish move beyond Holy Spirit’s building and its walls to fulfill the church’s true mission, he said – to help others and share their faith.

“The church is meant to reach out to people, instead of maintaining what we have we are meant to share our gifts,” Jacobi said. “We need to expand our social action ministry and continue to welcome people to our church and to our community.

“It’s an exciting time and I am thankful to be a part of it,” he said.

Holy Spirit Catholic Church is located at 1100 North Sara Road in Mustang, 376-9435. More information is also available online at http://www.mustangcatholic.com/.