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Fr. Carota

Father Peter Carota (1948-2016)

I founded St. Francis Catholic Kitchen to show the community of Santa Cruz what it meant for me to act as a Catholic Christian by helping the poor. My goal was not just to feed, clothe and shelter the poor, but also to heal their brokenness through bringing them to Jesus and His Church. It was prayer that sustained our work and reminded us to do it with love. -- Fr. Peter Carota, quoted in 2009

Father Peter was born in Santa Cruz on November 15, 1948. His remarkable and devout parents, Mario and Estelle, raised a family of 19 children, including 11 foster children. At one time, the family owned a bus which was used on family trips.

The late Mario Carota taught his sons how to build and remodel houses. As the family grew, they worked together to construct additional bedrooms and living space to accommodate everyone.

Fr. Peter attended Watsonville High School. After graduating from Carlton University in Ontario, Canada, he worked as a realtor in Santa Cruz. In the 1980’s, he sold everything, founded the St. Francis Catholic Kitchen nonprofit, and purchased two properties for the soup kitchen and the Jesus Mary Joseph Home.

Following priestly ordination in 1997, he was pastor and assistant pastor at numerous churches in California and Arizona, and even built a church, the Chapel of the Holy Angels in Ripon, CA, where he is now buried.

At various times, Fr. Peter did missionary work in Mexico and Brazil and maintained an Internet blog at In 2016, Fr. Peter Carota went home to Jesus in Escalon, CA where he had served for 10 years as pastor of St. Patrick’s Church. He was 67 years old.

Updated August 2019