Father Joseph Champlin was born on May 11, 1930. He was educated in the public schools of New York State before graduating from Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts in 1947. After studying at Yale and Notre Dame Universities, he began and continued his journey to the priesthood at seminaries in Rochester, New York. He was ordained on February 2, 1956, for the diocese of Syracuse. During 50 years of priestly ministry, Father Champlin served as pastor in three parishes within his Diocese including rector at St. Joseph’s Church of Camillus, New York, rector of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Syracuse, New York and sacramental priest at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church in Warners, New York.
From 1968-1971 he served as Associate Director in the Liturgy Secretariat for the National Conference of Catholic Bishops. Father Champlin edited for the American Bishops Faithful to Each Other Forever: “A Catholic Handbook of Pastoral Help for Marriage Preparation.“
Father Champlin traveled more than two million miles here and abroad during these years lecturing on liturgical and pastoral matters as well as conducting retreats for priests and missions for parishes.
He wrote 50 books with over twenty million copies of his publications in print. For many years he authored a weekly column on the liturgy and worship distributed by the NC News Service and has also appeared in about a dozen videos and made numerous television appearances. His most popular volume is Together for Life in both English and Spanish, now with over nine million copies in circulation (Ave Maria Press/Liguori).
Father Champlin lectured widely on stewardship and sacrificial giving with a manual, Grateful Caretakers of God’s Many Gifts, including attractive companion fliers “Grateful Giving” and “Taking a Step” (Liturgical Press). In addition, Liturgical Press published a booklet by Father Champlin called: A Way of Life.
In November, 2003, Ave Maria Press released Slow Down: “Five Minute Reflections to De-Stress Your Days“ – a compilation of 101 radio spots which are still broadcast locally on WSYR Radio. In 2004, Alba House published From Time to Eternity and Back, a personalized account of Father’s struggle with Waldenstrom’s Disease, a rare form of bone marrow cancer.
Two books, The Breaking of the Bread: “An Updated Handbook for Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion” and The Eucharist: A Mystery of Faith, were released by Paulist Press in the fall of 2004.
Catholic Book Publishing issued in 2006, A Catholic Perspective on the Purpose Driven Life.
Three of his works were published by Liguori in Spanish: El Via Crucis Con el Papa Juan Pablo II (Stations of the Cross with Pope John Paul II), De la muerte a la vida (From Death to Life) and Juntos Para Toda La Vida (Together For Life with Rite of Marriage cards as well). The last book was consistently at the top of bestselling Catholic Spanish books list for quite a while.
He also appeared frequently on Sirius Satellite Radio at 6:40 a.m. on Tuesday mornings.
In 1997, Father Champlin founded the Guardian Angel Society, a non-profit effort to assist children in the Central New York area from diverse, below poverty level homes with their education. Graduates are now studying at prestigious colleges and such as Georgetown, Notre Dame, Clarkson, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Le Moyne College and OCC, to name a few.
On January 17, 2008, Father Champlin passed away. His legacy lives on as the Guardian Angel Society continues to provide tuition assistance as well as mentor and tutor support to underprivileged children in the community who come from diverse cultural and religious backgrounds. Our is to equip these students with a strong educational foundation focused on solid values, so they may become productive citizens and break the cycle of poverty.