Father Raymond Paul’s impact in the Diocese of Youngstown and throughout his hometown community of Massillon will never be forgotten.
Father Paul recently wrapped up 60 years of service to the diocese and announced his retirement in July 2022. For 36 years, he had served as pastor of Massillon St. Joseph Parish.
Born and raised in Massillon, he attended St. Mary School here before entering Mount St. Francis Seminary, operated by the Conventual Franciscan Friars in New Albany, Ind.
Ordained a Conventual Franciscan priest on March 3, 1962, by Archbishop Leo Binz in St. Paul, Minn., Father Paul was first appointed to the National Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation, Carey, Ohio – now a basilica.
He served there for eight years and his duties included submitting articles monthly for their magazine, “Apostolate of Our Lady.”
Father Paul began ministering in the Diocese of Youngstown in 1970, as associate pastor of Youngstown St. Anthony of Padua Parish. He served briefly as administrator toward the end of his tenure there.
For two years he taught at Youngstown Ursuline High School. During that period, he also served as a chaplain at the former Cafaro Hospital in Youngstown.
He was transferred to Struthers St. Nicholas Parish as associate pastor in February 1974 – the year he was incardinated into the diocese.
Father Paul was appointed to his first pastorate at Harrisburg Sacred Heart of Mary Parish in July 1978. He served there until being named pastor of Massillon St. Joseph in July 1986.
Father Paul’s ability to connect with parishioners on a caring and personal level is what husband and wife Erin and Shawn Wise say makes him an ideal shepherd of people. He made everybody feel special, they said, and truly showed pastoral love to parishioners of all ages.
“He has touched our family very deeply as members of St. Joseph Parish,” Erin and Shawn Wise said.
“When our children were little and just beginning to pay attention to Mass, he made it known that he enjoyed having them in the first pew where they could watch Mass and participate. He would often make happy comments on our daughter’s signing or our son’s exuberant facial expressions.”
Father Paul was there for the Shaw family during some of the most tragic moments of their lives, the couple commented..
“When our son was diagnosed with cancer, Father was always there with encouraging words and prayers and would give Tegan a special blessing any time he was able to attend Mass,” the Shaws said.
”During one of many chemotherapy sessions, when Tegan could not attend Mass due to his immune system, Tegan would ask to go see Father Paul. Father was the reason that Tegan would tell his oncologist that he wanted to go back to church.
“Throughout this difficult time, father would always check in with our daughter and make sure she was doing OK and tell her what a good big sister she was.”
“Our children are blessed to have a special relationship with Father from his fist bumps at the end of Mass to their doughnut Sunday traditions. Father Paul will always be one of the most shining examples to our family of what being a wonderful Catholic priest is meant to be,” the Shaws commented.
The Mamone family of St. Joseph Parish shared similar thoughts about Father Paul’s service.
“There aren’t enough words to describe what Father Paul means to our family,” Mother, Rory, who was involved with activities at the parish and enjoyed working with Father Paul on several projects, said.
“He has officiated over every major life event. Our marriage, the birth of our children and Holy Communions.”
“He used to give me high fives,” son, Theodore, said.
“Father Paul made me feel special when he came to my First Communion celebration,” daughter, Rosemary, said.
“Father Paul always asked how school was,” daughter, Margaret, said.
What Rory Mamone will always most about Father Paul “is his bluntness and subtle humor. Our family still uses Father Paul quotes to giggle and laugh with. He is the true embodiment of what a follower of Christ should be and the Catholic Church as a whole is so blessed to have him.”
In addition to his parish service, Father Paul has served on the diocesan Priests Council and the Senate of Priests, the Priest Personnel Board, the Priest Retirement Board and as a synodal judge on the diocesan Tribunal.
He also had been a member and treasurer of the Massillon Commission to Advance Literacy and has served as chaplain to Massillon Assembly 820 of the Knights of Columbus.
His other roles included hearing confessions at St. Elizabeth Hospital, Youngstown, and offering weekly Mass at a nursing home.
Father Paul turned 87 on Sept. 28, shortly after his retirement. His lifetime of service continues to be an inspiration for current and future priests.
On April 2, Bishop David Bonnar celebrated Mass at St. Joseph to thank Father Paul for his devotion to the faith, his dedication to his parish and his 60 years as a priest.
“I wish to thank you for your life and ministry as a priest,” Bishop Bonnar said at the Mass. “May God bless you abundantly for your holy service as His shepherd.”