In declaring the Year of St. Joseph, Pope Francis called it an opportunity to increase our love for and knowledge of St. Joseph and “to encourage us to implore his intercession and to imitate his virtues and his zeal.”
Many St. Louis Catholics already have a deep relationship with the patron saint of the Universal Church.
For example, a carpentry, cabinet and remodeling business in Perryville is named Joseph’s Shop after St. Joseph, the carpenter. Owner Bob Schumer named it for his family’s devotion to the saint.
Joseph is Schumer’s middle name and the middle name of his father and his four brothers. Growing up, Bob Schumer’s family of nine children always had a strong devotion to the Holy Family. “But we always considered St. Joseph as the patron of the family,” he said.
Schumer has enjoyed carpentry work since he was a child driving nails into sticks of wood with his grandfather. It was a hobby he had while he worked in the family plumbing and heating business before he created the carpentry business in 1998 with his son-in-law Chad Layton. “I didn’t think you could come up with a better name for a carpentry shop than Joseph’s Shop.”
His favorite job for his business was building the oak altar, chairs and other items at St. Joseph Church in Farmington.
Joe Dickmann, a parishioner of St. Joseph Parish in Clayton for 51 years, carries two medals of St. Joseph in his pockets. He also has a statue of St. Joseph in his bedroom that belonged to his grandfather and another statue of the saint on the workbench in his basement. He prays daily for other Joes, recently adding President Joe Biden to the list. “I also ask him (St. Joseph) to help me be a good worker,” Dickmann said.
He had two grandparents and two uncles named Joe, and has a son is named Joe. He considers St. Joseph the patron of his family.
Dickmann tries to be a good father and husband, following St. Joseph’s footsteps. They have virtual family get-togethers every Sunday, “and they’re just wonderful people, so he (St. Joseph) is doing some good,” Dickmann said.
His routine when he attends Mass even involves St. Joseph: He enters the side door of St. Joseph Church, then stops to pray by statues of St. Joseph and the Sacred Heart and an image of Our Lady of Perpetual Help.
Joe Hoffmann, maintenance supervisor at St. Martin de Porres Parish in Hazelwood and a parishioner at St. Rose Philippine Duchesne in Florissant, was named Joseph because St. Joseph is his grandfather’s patron saint.
“This year he’s become an even bigger part of my life,” Hoffmann said, due to the Year of St. Joseph.
Five years ago Hoffmann was what he called “a practicing Catholic, that’s it.” Then he went on an ACTS retreat, and “the Holy Spirit got ahold of me and guided me,” he said. “Jesus became a bigger part of my life not too long after that. Then I was doing a Rosary with the retreatants every week, and Mary was very important to me. But Joseph has always been big in my life.”
He gives extra effort at work because of St. Joseph, the patron saint of workers. “I’m just doing my job. That’s what Joseph did. He did his job. He had a chance to walk away from it all, and he didn’t. He stayed with Mary.”
St. Joseph’s shadow
Father Joseph Weber, pastor of St. John Bosco Parish in Creve Coeur, couldn’t escape the shadow of St. Joseph even if he’d wanted to do so.
He’s the son, grandson and great-great grandson of Joseph Webers. And his aunt was a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet.
Father Weber’s father had a statue of St. Joseph on his dresser. His dad often would talk to young Joe Weber about St. Joseph, the saint’s role as a father and how St. Joseph liked to work with his hands as a carpenter. Like St. Joseph, the young lad’s dad was creative, starting in the early 1900s using a crystal set to pick up air waves to listen to the radio.
Mr. Joe Weber was a municipal court judge, a subdivision trustee and “always wanted to do good for other people,” Father Weber said. “He often would mention St. Joseph as someone who did good for other people.”
Father Weber is doing a Consecration to St. Joseph (from the book by the same name by Father Donald Calloway, MIC) ahead of the feast of St. Joseph on March 19.
“Obviously we know precious little about St. Joseph,” Father Weber said. “He was always present. That’s the important thing.”
Joseph Simmons of St. Augustine Parish in St. Louis appreciates the saint he refers to as the foster father of Jesus, a carpenter from Nazareth. “His feast day is March 19; my birthday is March 20,” Simmons said.
Simmons’ father and grandfather also were named Joseph. Having attended a Catholic grade school and high school, Simmons said, he learned a lot about St. Joseph and the saints. He especially appreciates that Joseph served as a protector of Mary and Jesus, including “when they were in Bethlehem and he got them out” after the birth of Jesus. An angel of the Lord came to Joseph in a dream and warned him to leave because King Herod was planning to seek out the child to destroy Him (Matthew 2:12-15).
“He’s somebody to look up to,” Simmons said of St. Joseph.
>> Joseph Remembered
Father Gerald Joseph Kleba was so taken by St. Joseph — his personal patron and hero — that he wrote a book on him, “Joseph Remembered: The Father of Jesus,” published in 2000 by the Summit Publishing Group.
Father Kleba is a retired parish pastor who led a number of initiatives in the Archdiocese of St. Louis in economic justice, housing and community development. He stated in the book’s preface that he wrote it to provide a timely biblical approach to St. Joseph, one that showed he was a super person who, because of his unwavering faith, walked through a minefield of the sufferings, shocks and surprises that are our common experience.
The book is not a historical book that chronicles specific events, but rather a story about the human situation of the humble family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. “Joseph left us his legacy in the person of his son,” Father Kleba wrote. “Since we know so much about Jesus, we also know more about Joseph than just the two pages of biblical material.”
>> Year of St. Joseph
Archbishop Mitchell Rozanski will kick off the Year of St. Joseph observances in the Archdiocese of St. Louis with a Mass at noon on the Solemnity of St. Joseph, Friday, March 19, at the Shrine of St. Joseph, 1220 North 11th St. in St. Louis.
For continuous information on the Year of St. Joseph, which extends to Dec. 8, visit www.archstl.org/ year-of-st-joseph.
>> Plenary indulgence
The Vatican’s Apostolic Penitentiary issued a decree granting special indulgences for the duration of the Year of St. Joseph and “to perpetuate the entrustment of the whole Church to the powerful patronage of the Custodian of Jesus.”
An indulgence is an ancient practice of prayer and penance for the remission of the temporal punishment a person is due for sins that have been forgiven. In Catholic teaching, a person can draw on the merits of Jesus and the saints to claim the indulgence for themselves or offer it on behalf of someone who has died.
To read more about the indulgence and the conditions, visit www.archstl.org/ year-of-st-joseph.
>> Video series
Rather than a Lenten video series this year, the Little Sisters of the Poor are celebrating the Year of St. Joseph during the month of March, which is traditionally dedicated to him.
The series of reflections are being posted on their website, littlesistersofthepoor.org/2021-st-joseph-series.