He has been gone a year, but the late Father Peter Carota, former pastor at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Ripon, has not been forgotten by the faithful he shepherded.
On Saturday, exactly a year after the late pastor’s death, his former parishioners at the church he served for 10 out of his 15 years as an ordained priest, will observe the one-year anniversary of the demise of their “beloved friend” with a rosary held at his graveside at St. John’s Catholic Cemetery right next to the church he served on the corner of East Highway 120 and Carrollton Road in Ripon. Immediately following the 9 a.m. prayers will be a potluck brunch at the public park at 17407 Escalon-Bellota Road.
Invited are all “those who loved Father,” according to the organizers who notified friends and St. Patrick parishioners.
Those who are planning to attend the potluck at the park are asked to bring a dish and beverage to share, plus plates, cups, utensils, and napkins for those who are able to contribute these items. There are tables at the park; however, they were not reserved so those who are coming are also asked to bring folding chairs, tables or blankets in case no tables will be available.
For further questions, call 209.423.4075 or 209.465.1087.
Death comes only a few
years after sabbatical
Simply known as Father Peter, the popular pastor left St. Patrick’s Church in 2012 to go on sabbatical. In an interview with the Manteca Bulletin just before he left, he talked about his dream of establishing a way to share his love of the Traditional Latin Mass.
“I want to start a Catholic Church television station that has the Latin Mass every day,” he said of the dream that he has nurtured “for a long time.”
It was a dream that, unfortunately, did not come to fruition. He had been in poor health since he started his sabbatical, and became progressively worse after that. Around that time, he started a blog in which he shared his sabbatical journey with regular posts about the many places he visited, along with prayerful entries about the Traditional Latin Mass which he started at St. Patrick’s five years before his sabbatical and continues to this day at 6:30 a.m. on Sundays.
After his health continued to deteriorate, he came back to his old parish and spent the last few months at a private home in Escalon where he received full-time care.
Father Peter was a late vocation. He was a successful real estate broker in Aptos and Santa Cruz area before he received the call to become an ordained priest. While enjoying his successful career, he also devoted his time to helping the poor, the homeless and the marginalized in the area by opening a soup kitchen, a program- providentially called St. Patrick’s Catholic Kitchen which continues to this day three decades later. His demeanor, even then, was such that he was often mistaken as a priest. As a child, he actually dreamed of becoming a priest one day and often played “priest” pretending to offer the sacrifice of the Mass.
His main legacy at St. Patrick
is the Traditional Latin Mass
The Traditional Latin Mass continues to this day at St. Patrick’s church. It is held every Sunday at 6:30 a.m. The main celebrant is Father Wagner who was Father Peter’s predecessor. Other priests trained in the Latin Mass lead the services during the few Sundays he is not available.
Father Peter was ordained on May 24, 1997. After his ordination, he served as assistant pastor, first at St. George parish in Stockton, followed by his appointment to St. Jude in Ceres, and Our Lady of Fatima in Modesto. St. Patrick’s was his first assignment as pastor. He succeeded Father Mark Wagner who went on to become pastor of St. Joseph Parish on Oakdale Road after Father Joseph Illo left.
There was no immediate replacement for Father Peter as pastor of St. Patrick’s after he left. At one point before a permanent one was assigned, Father Alex Pacheco came out of retirement to temporarily serve as administrator. Several priests alternately presided over the Sunday Latin Mass on Sundays.
St. Patrick’s current pastor is Father Jeff Wilson.
During Father Peter’s decade-long tenure as pastor at St. Patrick’s, some of his memorable accomplishments included:
uturning the parish’s $240,000 in the bank to around $1,400,000.
uremodeling of the Parish Hall and replacement of all the roofs, which were his first projects as pastor.
uleading the parish to prepare for Caltrans’ plan to widen Highway 120, which is pretty close to the church, by purchasing 22 acres behind St. John Cemetery along Carrolton Road for $1 million, which was paid in cash.
uhaving the parish obtain a use permit from San Joaquin County “with great difficulty” to build a new chapel, a new church, a multipurpose room, and a school on the property.
ubuilding a new chapel on the 22-acre property for $600,000.
In a letter he wrote to his parishioners just before he left for his sabbatcal, Father Carota stated: “Here at St. Patrick’s, we do not charge for anything. Catechism is on a donation basis. We have a suggested donation for weddings and (quinceaneras). No one is expected to have to pay for anything here. And look how God has blessed us over these 10 years, thanks to God and to all of you who have made it possible and have supported me.”
He added, “I have grown in these ten years. Hopefully you have too. Five years ago, the Pope (referring to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI) encouraged the saying of the Latin Mass again. Since saying it these last five years, I have truly understood my priesthood in a totally deeper way as being sacrificial. Above all, I love the reverence and sacredness of this mass. Jesus is God and truly present in Holy Communion. Therefore, we should kneel and receive Him with all reverence that God deserves. This mass is only concerned with adoring God…. Please pray for me, and thank you for all you have done for me. Thank you to all who have taken seriously your spiritual growth as Catholics. With your help, the parish has a great future with the 22 acres.”