In April 2002, when the Detroit police arrested one of his parish priests on rape charges, Joe Maher did not think twice. Along with his business partner, Pete Ferrara, he drove out to the county jail and paid the bail. Then, with another businessman, Paul Barron, and Maher’s pastor, Reverend Eduard Perrone, they set about finding a top-notch lawyer and funded a vigorous defense.
After a sensational trial, the Michigan jury acquitted the priest of all charges on August 30th of that year. The media frenzy surrounding the weeklong trial proceedings, which reported on the valiant efforts of the men, motivated Catholic priests and bishops to contact Maher and Ferrara for confidential help.
For the many priests that would call for help over the next several months following the trial, the duo never said no. By Spring of that year, their small personal fortunes were exhausted. In spite of looming financial doom, their wives encouraged Maher and Ferrara to step out in faith in order to provide extraordinary care for the Holy Catholic priesthood. Their courageous leap of faith meant leaving the profitable financial systems company that Ferrara had started and of which Maher was the CEO. Virtually penniless at this point, they founded the non-profit charity Opus Bono Sacerdotii, which in Latin means “work for the good of the priesthood”, and became beggars for those Catholic priests who are the most troubled, tempted, discouraged and suffering.
Today, Maher and Ferrara along with their small staff rely solely on the generosity of others to fund their vital mission to priests who are experiencing intense difficulties. The urgency of their mission is evident in the daily phone calls by priests who often find themselves in desperate circumstances requiring the loving care and expertise which only Opus Bono can give them.
Over 10,000 Catholic priests along with many bishops and the Vatican have contacted Opus Bono for their unconditional love and support. On average, they receive three to five calls from new priests every week, that is in addition to all of the priests who Opus Bono continues to support since their founding in 2002.
Calling upon Opus Bono’s years of broad experience in dealing with the many and varied problems confronting priests, Catholic clergy contact Opus Bono to facilitate immediate and confidential assistance for difficulties including vocation crisis, relationship issues, financial guidance, abuse allegations, spiritual direction, psychological counsel, medical aid, and emotional support amongst others.
For recent examples of Opus Bono's work go to Priest Stories.