Strickland was born Oct. 31, 1958, in Fredericksburg to Raymond and Monica Strickland, but the family moved to Texarkana in 1959 and then to Atlanta in 1963. The Stricklands were founding members of St. Catherine of Siena Church in Atlanta, and young Joe was an altar server.
He graduated from Atlanta High School in 1977 and entered Holy Trinity Seminary and the University of Dallas in Irving. He received a bachelor’s degree in philosophy in 1981 and continued his seminary studies.
He was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Dallas on June 1, 1985, by Bishop Thomas Tschoepe and was assigned as parochial vicar at then-Immaculate Conception Church in Tyler.
In 1987, when the Diocese of Tyler was created from the Dioceses of Dallas, Beaumont and Galveston-Houston, Strickland became a priest of the Tyler Diocese. He was named director of vocations by Bishop Charles E. Herzig.
In 1992 he entered the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., to study canon law, the law which governs the Catholic Church. He received his licentiate in canon law in May, 1994, and was named rector of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Tyler. He was appointed judicial vicar for the Tyler Diocese by Bishop Edmond Carmody in 1995.
In 1996, Pope John Paul II named him a prelate of honor with the title of monsignor.
Bishop Corrada named Strickland vicar general of the diocese, and he served in that post until Bishop Corrada’s transfer to the Diocese of Mayagüez, Puerto Rico, in July 2011. Bishop Corrada was made apostolic administrator of the Tyler Diocese until a successor could be named, and Msgr. Strickland served as delegate of the apostolic administrator.
During a press conference in Tyler on Saturday, Strickland called his appointment a “joyful message” and said he was “grateful to God” for the opportunity given him.
“It’s a joyful message we share today,” he said to fellow priests, deacons, consecrated religious, lay faithful and local press. “My greatest joy has always been to gather around the altar of Christ with you.
“I know this is a tremendous challenge,” the bishop-designate said. “But I’m here with family.”
Strickland said he will dedicate his ministry as bishop to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and said his Episcopal motto will be, “To dwell in the house of the Lord.”
He also announced he will lead a prayer vigil on the Tyler courthouse square on Nov. 4 at 5 p.m., and invited people of all faiths to join him.
“In this election year,” he said, “let us gather and pray for our nation.”