For the first time in his life, God’s calling is taking Father Mike Carson away from the Bay Area; far away from the place he has called home his entire life.
On April 18, Carson, 52, leaves his position as Pastor of Saint Cyprian Church in Sunnyvale and will drive across country to Washington, D.C. where he will become the Assistant Director for Native American Affairs for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
Father Carson grew up in Mountain View and was ordained a priest of the Diocese of San Jose 17 years ago.
“I am very excited for this new opportunity,” said Carson. “It’s going to be fun. I will miss everyone in the Diocese and at Saint Cyprian. It is very sad. I have really enjoyed being a diocesan priest. God has promised me a roller coaster ride (of life) and I am buckled in and ready.”
Carson admitted he never thought he’d get the job when he applied, after asking for permission from Bishop Patrick J. McGrath. He had just gotten his master’s degree from Santa Clara University and noticed the job opening on the USCCB website. After applying, Carson did a Skype interview, followed by an in-person interview in Washington, D.C. and the job was his.
“I was shocked and astonished that I got the job,” said Carson, who signed a contract and will remain a priest with the Diocese of San Jose.
Carson, whose maternal grandfather was full-blooded Choctaw Indian, has spent the last eight years visiting a Navajo reservation in New Mexico.
“I think they liked my background in social justice,” he said, “and my education background. I know they wanted someone who was an administrator and a priest. For Native Americans, the trunk of the tree is the lack of hope. We need to show them their lives can be better through a good Catholic education and they have an opportunity for a good life.”
Carson’s role at the USCCB will be as the coordinator of Catholic missions, churches and schools for the Native Americans. While in Washington, Carson said he hopes to work at Juvenile Hall through the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., depending on what his schedule allows.
Prior to serving at Saint Cyprian, Carson spent a year as a Chaplain at the San Jose City Jails and had been the pastor at Queen of Apostles Church in San Jose.
“I have loved dealing with the people at the parishes and at the schools,” said Carson. “You really get into their lives. It is all a part of Christ’s life.”
Bishop McGrath has named Father Vincent Pineda to replace Father Carson as pastor at Saint Cyprian Parish in Sunnyvale.