When Pope Francis declared the Year of Saint Joseph, his aim was to “to increase our love for this great saint, to encourage us to implore his intercession and to imitate his virtues and his zeal.” (Patris Corde) Even though restrictions were still being implemented due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we challenged ourselves as a parish staff to honor our Patron of the Catholic Church.
We began celebrating the Year of Saint Joseph on his feast day, March 19. We adorned our St. Joseph statute with lilies, and our parish priest blessed it. At the end of every Mass, our priest approaches the statue and says a prayer to St. Joseph. We also hosted a drive-through fish fry. We handed out St. Joseph trivia cards for our guests to complete as they waited in line. Answer sheets were provided when guests picked up their food orders. Anyone who turned in a trivia sheet was entered into a drawing for a free fish dinner at our next fish fry. This event attracted members of the entire community, not just parishioners. Guests said they enjoyed learning about St. Joseph.
Since our celebration of the Year of Saint Joseph began during Lent, we prayed a version of the Stations of the Cross through the eyes of St. Joseph. We also made a prayer booklet that included other prayers to St. Joseph for parishioners to use during Eucharistic Adoration.
Next, we wanted to get the school involved in honoring the Year of Saint Joseph. We had a St. Joseph coloring contest in early spring, which was popular among all ages. St. Joseph prizes—such as rosary cases and books—were awarded to various age groups.
Parish-wide, we had a Consecration to St. Joseph. On May 1, the Feast Day of St. Joseph the Worker, we had a special Mass in which participants consecrated themselves to St. Joseph and then were given a blessed medal at the end of Mass. This consecration Mass was widely attended, which was wonderful to see.
As we moved into summer and the COVID-19 restrictions slowly began to lift, we welcomed the women of the parish back to Mass with a gift on Mother’s Day: a lily of the valley-scented candle in honor of Joseph. Each candle lid had a sticker of the Holy Family on it, as well as an attached prayer card. On Father’s Day weekend, the men of the parish were given a St. Joseph rosary and prayer card. For both events, our parish priest handed out the gifts after all the weekend Masses. Our final summer event was a father-child hike at a local county park. One of our male parishioners led the hike and prayed the Litany of St. Joseph along the way.
More festivities are planned for the fall. We will have a Joseph cookie-decorating contest for the parish and school in late November. We are also planning an Advent night in early December in which the guest speaker will discuss devotion to St. Joseph, as well as the important role Joseph plays in marriage and family life.
Overall, we found that parishioners were excited to learn about St. Joseph and were appreciative of efforts we made to honor him. We hope they continue to see Joseph as a humble and obedient man who willingly devoted his life to being the spouse of Mary and foster-father of Jesus.
St. Joseph, pray for us!