Rarely can anyone say that their priest serves as a full-time civilian at a top military installation, but such is the role of White Sands Missile Range Facility Manger Yossi Sarid.
Sarid, originally from Knoxville, Tennessee, also serves as an Episcopalian Anglican priest for two area churches, and is an on-call chaplain for a hospital in Las Cruces, New Mexico.
“It’s not a job, it’s a passion, and I love everything about being a priest,” Sarid said
On Sundays, Sarid said he spends, on average, about four hours on the road travelling to San Agustine Church in Deming, New Mexico, where he was recently indoctrinated as a rector, followed by a second sermon at Holy Trinity in Silver City, New Mexico. Sarid serves as a rector for both churches.
Sarid said his calling into priesthood was always there, but he never relished the idea until after he got out of the Army. Sarid said he had his first calling when he was 13 years old at a Vacation Bible School camp. However, he steered far from his calling when he decided to join the Army at 18. Once he joined the Army, Sarid said that on a personal level, he moved as far away from God as he could get. He served in the Army for 12 years and separated at the rank of Major.
“I felt very strongly that priesthood was my purpose in life, but at first I was really reluctant to accept it,” he said.
After leaving the Army, he pursued his education and obtained his bachelor’s degree in Religious Studies from the University of Tennessee, his master’s degree in Divinity from Laude Hall Theological Seminar Temple, and a doctoral degree in Ministry from Tennessee Temple.
As part of his chaplain responsibilities at the hospital, Sarid is on duty four times out of the month. Until recently, Sarid also served as the chaplain for the Las Cruces Gospel Rescue Mission. He also teaches a couple of programs Saturday mornings at both churches, causing him to be away from home for almost the entire weekend and sometimes on weekday afternoons.
“I have a strong family support (system) and a drive to bring people closer to God,” Sarid said. “Our faith is a very important part of our lives.”
Sarid also has seven children, three of which still live at home. He said he knows his children wish he could be home a lot more often, but the entire family is very supportive of his many roles.
“I make as many of their soccer games and baseball games as I can, and my wife is a very active wife and mother,” Sarid said.
His wife Josephine, who also works at WSMR as a general engineer, also travels with him to both sermons. His children only attend the first sermon, because he said they get enough of his spiritual guidance at home.
“I try to support my husband in his religious functions as much as possible,” Josephine said. “I think it is great that he is in the priesthood and that he wants to help people. In my opinion, he does an outstanding job at it; he goes the extra mile to help anyone in need,” she said. “My husband loves to help anyone in need; he loves to preach the Word of God, and he loves to help people find God in their lives.”
He said his passion is the priesthood, but he continues to serve as a civilian because he said he feels it falls in line with his spiritual life.
“I’ve always been a part of the government at some point in my life. I’m a servant of the people as a priest and I’m a servant to the American people as a civilian,” he said.
Sarid said he doesn’t advertise his spiritual roles at work, but is always happy to provide guidance and assistance to his fellow co-workers.
“It’s kind of interesting, I always know how people are approaching me. I know if they come in (my office) and shut the door they are looking for spiritual advice,” Sarid said.