SOMERSET – Clergy are often unsung leaders of the community. Quiet and tranquil, they help others without bringing attention to themselves. The Rev. Stephen Carmody has filled this vocation for 40 years, serving the Holy Trinity and St. Joseph Catholic churches for 13 of them.
Carmody began his vocation while attending the University of Virginia. There he met members of the Dominican Order of the Roman Catholic Church. Through their influence, and the encouragement of his peers, he decided to join the clergy. Before coming to Somerset, Carmody practiced at locations in New York and Philadelphia. He said compared to bigger cities, he likes the quietness of Somerset as it reminds him of his grandparent’s farm.
“I remember my driving up here and coming from my home state of Connecticut and seeing the green grass and admiring how green it was; the the quietness about it,” Carmody said. “The country atmosphere brought back memories of when we visited my grandparents, and they were living on a small type of farm.”
He also likes the community spirit of the people of Somerset. He believes a lot of the camaraderie he sees is due to the people being farmers, who farmers need each other to accomplish tasks. He said there is an ingenuity to the people, and that everyone seems to be skilled at multiple things, from woodworking to mechanics.
He recounted a story where somebody had lost the $100 out of their pocket while visiting the post office. Rather than somebody taking it, the money was found and handed in to the post office for safekeeping, and eventually returned to the owner.
“You see that honesty here, that people treat each other honestly. I see those very good qualities and strong qualities in this community,” Carmody said
The most important aspect of Carmody’s job is his priestly duties, such as overseeing mass, taking confessions, and anointing the sick. “I think it’s been being able to provide the sacraments, celebrating mass, being able to provide the holy communion to the people and the eucharist,” he said. “It is in the confession, and helping people try to turn away from sin and try and strengthen them in going into the life of Christ.”
COVID–19 changed the way Holy Trinity and St. Joseph conducted gatherings, but starting June 6, things began returning to normal. During the pandemic obligatory Sunday mass was suspended and people were not required to attend. Mass was recorded and posted on YouTube. Carmody said once people were allowed to return to church they did so immediately, as they were missing the ritual and community that mass provided.
“It was impressive to me in that it showed that the faith was alive, even in spite of being away for a couple of months,” Carmody said.
With the mask mandate loosening, public life will begin to return to normal. Carmody will still be there, maintaining the church as he did before the pandemic.