A funeral Mass will be offered Dec. 12 at St. John the Evangelist Church, Schenectady, for Rev. Joseph Girzone, who died Nov. 29. He was 85 and had been a priest for 60 years.

A native of Albany, he spent 15 years as a Carmelite priest and was then incardinated as a priest of the Albany Diocese. He served as associate pastor at St. Clare's parish in Colonie, Our Lady of the Assumption in Latham (while teaching at Mercy High School in Albany), Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Schenectady and St. Joseph's in Scotia; he was also a chaplain for the Schenectady County jail. He served as pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel parish in Amsterdam and St. Patrick's in Ravena.

Retiring in 1981 for health reasons, Father Girzone became the bestselling author of the "Joshua" series of books about Jesus, made into a movie and even a musical. That led to founding the Altamont-based Joshua Foundation/Joshua Mountain Ministries (see joshuamountain.org) and dedicating the rest of his life to writing -- including more than a dozen other books on faith -- speaking and leading retreats.

All of this speaks to Father Girzone's lifelong fascination with Jesus. He often told The Evangelist how very much he wanted to make Jesus real for other people, and he used that as a springboard to urge vocations to the priesthood. As recently as last year, he published "Stories of Jesus: 40 Days of Prayer and Reflection," and contacted The Evangelist about writing an op-ed piece on the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist (read that at www.evangelist.org).

Father Girzone also wanted to use his resources to help the poor. The Joshua Foundation was a financial supporter of the Joshua Project, created to fight deep-seated poverty in Scho-harie County after 2011 floods added to residents' issues. The project has repaired homes, provided food and offered social services.

In announcing Father Girzone's passing, Rev. David Berberian, vicar for clergy for the Diocese, stated that "it is no exaggeration to say that he touched the lives of countless people around the globe."

Father Girzone himself put it more simply in a 2014 interview: "I just feel like God has taken me from the back of the neck since I was a little kid and said, 'This is what you're gonna do.' I'm glad [my books] help people."

Making Jesus real for people "can change their lives," he said.

May he rest in the arms of Jesus.