In Memoriam – Father Joe Carroll, Legendary Advocate for Homeless San Diegans



The Lucky Duck Foundation is forever grateful to have known and have benefited from the leadership of Father Joe Carroll, the San Diego icon who devoted his life to helping our homeless neighbors. We are extremely fortunate that Fr. Joe served as Special Advisor to our Board of Directors, and his insights and counsel continue to be critical to our work. This weekend, we are paying tribute to him with an hour-long special on KUSI airing at 10:30am on Sunday, November 14. 

For more on Fr. Joe’s tremendous legacy, watch LDF chairman and co-founder Pat Kilkenny’s recent appearance on KUSI, or read Fr. Joe’s memoir.


Fr. Joe Carroll, advocate for homeless San Diegans and Special Advisor to the Board of Directors, Lucky Duck Foundation, passed away on Sunday, July 11, 2021.

LDF’s connection to Fr. Joe Carroll goes back more than 35 years. In the early 1990s, LDF Chairman and Co-Founder, Pat Kilkenny, began supporting Fr. Joe’s work of helping people experiencing homelessness. Pat knew from the beginning that the work Fr. Joe was doing was life-saving and life-changing and benefited countless individuals. When LDF pivoted to focus squarely on homelessness, it was privileged and honored that Fr. Joe agreed to serve as Special Advisor to its Board of Directors and was an active contributor to the Tuesday Group. 

Everyone at LDF shares their deepest sadness and condolences over the passing of the one and only Fr. Joe Carroll.

“What Fr. Joe Carroll did in a lifetime is impossible to put into words. He was an absolutely extraordinary human being who saved countless lives and made San Diego a better place. We are all so much better for knowing him and we will endeavor to perpetuate his legacy and impact through the work of the Lucky Duck Foundation.” – Pat Kilkenny, LDF Chairman and Co-Founder

“Pat and I are not only grateful for our professional relationship with Fr. Joe, but for our personal connection. Over the years, Fr. Joe was an ardent supporter of the rights of homeless individuals and through his voice and work, we were inspired and motivated to do the same. We aspire to continue to lead with compassion, kindness, and courage of Fr. Joe.” – Stephanie Kilkenny, LDF Co-Founder and Board Member

What a loss. We are so much better for knowing him. Fr. Joe was a multi-talented and smiling warrior. I am truly going to miss him.” – Peter Seidler, Tuesday Group Co-Founder, and LDF Board Member

“Fr. Joe’s reach touches far beyond San Diego. His leadership and efforts to provide housing, healthcare, employment, and other support services to any person, regardless of their station in life, had a compounding effect across not just San Diego, but across the Nation, as other providers turned to him for expertise and knowledge. The impact of his death will surely be felt by many.” – Dan Shea, Tuesday Group Co-Founder, and LDF Board Member

“Fr. Joe amazingly achieved the challenge to ‘preach the Gospel at all times, and if necessary, use words.’ His life of deeds and caring for those in need was amazing and inspiring and I am very fortunate to have known him.” – Drew Moser, LDF Executive Director

“Father Joe inspired us by talking about neighbors helping neighbors. His entire life was dedicated to serving and delivering positive outcomes for the less fortunate of our community. San Diego is a better and more humane place because of Fr. Joe’s legacy. ” – Dan Novak, LDF Board Member

He was an extraordinary voice for those who were struggling and truly a kind man who believed in humanity and compassion.  This is sad and a loss for San Diego.” – Eugene “Mitch” Mitchell, LDF Board Member

“This is a profound loss for the entire San Diego community, but in particular, those whose lives he fought tirelessly for.” – Debbie Norwood Ruane, LDF Board Member

“We will miss his leadership, example and voice as he always sought to help his less fortunate sisters and brothers.” – Tom Mulvaney, LDF Board Member

“We are all going to be called to be with the Lord.  The tough part is you’ve got to be ready.  Fr. Joe Carroll left no confusion he was ready by how he always served others before self with his head, his heart, his hands, and his habits.  While many talk about doing things, Fr. Joe preached the gospel and used words if necessary.  Always a priest first, Fr. Joe spent his heaven doing good on earth by teaching us to take the beatitudes to heart so that in letting go of those things that bind our hearts and minds, we may experience something of the joy and wonder now being experienced by all the saints who he now joins in heaven where now all proclaim, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”  May we all continue living our lives with his same blessed spirit.” – Michael Brunker, CEO, The Third Option, Friend of LDF

Read more about the life and legacy of Fr. Joe, advocate for the homeless and “The Hustler Priest”, in the San Diego Union-Tribune.