By Anne Louise Mahoney, Managing Editor
Like many boys of his generation, my dad was given the first name “Joseph,” but was called by his second name. He wasn’t a carpenter, but his father was – I have always smiled at the connection.
We don’t know much about Joseph from the Bible, but I see him as a man who quietly gets things done: earning a living, protecting his wife and newborn son in a time of crisis, taking care of his family, teaching his son the trade. It’s no surprise that he is the patron saint of workers.
On May 1, International Workers’ Day, we remember St. Joseph and call on him to support and guide us in our work. No matter what type of work we do, and whether it is paid or unpaid, as Christians we are called to build the kingdom of God in the service of others. Even the most menial of tasks can be offered to God in a spirit of love and gratitude. As Pope John Paul II’s 1981 encyclical On Human Work (Laborem Exercens) says, “Through work [we] must earn [our] daily bread and contribute to the continual advance of science and technology and, above all, to elevating unceasingly the cultural and moral level of the society within which [we live] in community with those who belong to the same family.”
Joseph may have stayed in the background in Scripture (the gospels do not record any of his spoken words), but he has been an inspiration and model for many over the centuries. Canada’s own Brother André – a simple but holy man – was devoted to Joseph. Brother André would never take credit for miracles attributed to him. Instead, he would humbly say that St. Joseph was the one who healed people; he himself was only the saint’s little dog. André had a dream: to build a chapel for his beloved saint. Today, Saint Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal is the largest shrine to St. Joseph in the world; it welcomes around 2 million visitors every year.
In addition to being the patron of workers, Joseph is also a patron of fathers, pregnant women, travellers, immigrants, explorers, a good death, Canada, and the universal Church. He’s someone we can call on for help throughout our lives.
St. Joseph, pray for us!