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Year of St. Joseph highlights an inspirational saint

Jesus’ earthly father sets example, guides all, especially those who have his name

He was a tender, loving, obedient, accepting father who was courageous, a hard worker who stood in the shadows, away from the limelight.

In a new apostolic letter, “Patris corde (With a Father’s Heart),” Pope Francis marks the 150th anniversary of Pope Pius IX’s declaration of St. Joseph as patron of the Universal Church. Pope Francis proclaimed a Year of St. Joseph beginning on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception 2020 and extending to the same feast in 2021.

The Holy Father wrote “Patris corde” against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, which, he stated, has helped us see more clearly the importance of “ordinary” people who, though far from the limelight, exercise patience and offer hope every day. In this, they resemble St. Joseph, “the man who goes unnoticed, a daily, discreet and hidden presence,” who nonetheless played “an incomparable role in the history of salvation.”

The name “Joseph” has importance to many St. Louis Catholics. For example:

“It’s truly an honor to be named after somebody who was chosen to be Jesus’ earthy father. To guide, teach and protect Jesus was quite an honor. Joseph was a quiet person, but he led by example. I try to set a good example, like Joseph though I can’t compare myself to somebody like that. It’s also an honor to donate my time to the Shrine of St. Joseph. I do carpentry work, electrical work, plumbing work, things like that.”

Joe Finazzo, vice president of the Shrine of St. Joseph board

“When March 19 comes around, my mom always says ‘Happy St. Joseph’s Day!’ As an Italian American, we would make or buy bread and have it blessed for St. Joseph’s Day. It is usually shaped in a big circle and it is still sold in the bakeries on the Hill. Having St. Joseph as my saint name is an honor.”

Jo (Josephine) Wingbermuehle, secretary at Mary Queen of Peace School

“St. Joseph is the model at which I try to model my life in faithfulness to God, being dedicated to my family and friends, and be the best worker I can be. I pray to him regularly to help me in these areas as I go through life’s journey. I feel St. Joseph is by my side in all situations and confident that he is guiding me in my decisions. He may have been a quiet and unassuming person, but you can always count on him.”

Joseph F. Herber, St. Michael Parish in Shrewsbury

Fr. Kempf
“My Uncle Joe was a wonderful man and I have always loved being named after him. It was only when I got older that I began to appreciate the fact that I also share that name with St. Joseph. St. Joseph was a humble man who was willing to do what was needed for love. That is so moving to me. In the time I have been given on earth, Joseph’s simple goodness makes me want to also be my best and truest self for this world.

Father Joseph Kempf, pastor of Most Sacred Heart Parish in Eureka

“It’s always been an honor to be named after St. Joseph. The name means ‘He shall add,’ and I’ve always tried to live up to that.”

Dcn. Wientge
Deacon Joe Wientge, Mary Queen of Peace Parish

Fr. Sosa
“The humility and faith of St. Joseph have much to teach us. He may not have understood all that God was doing in and through him, but he simply and consistently did as the Lord commanded. As followers of Jesus, we are asked to do the will of God in faith, even if we do not understand where it will lead.”

Father Phil Sosa, provincial of the Missionaries of the Holy Family

“The qualities I possess that go along with my image of St. Joseph (include) being a person who is caring not only for his family, but also the community. St. Joseph is a person who likes to work with his hands to fix and create items that are new and wonderful. His creativity is seeing the world as an optimist and loving person, a world to which it becomes the Kingdom of God here on earth where everyone is loving and caring.”

Joe Pecaut, theology teacher at Cardinal Ritter College Prep

Sr. Moore
“As Sisters of St. Joseph we strive to ‘move always toward profound love of God and love of neighbor without distinction … in sincere charity-the manner of St. Joseph whose name she bears.’ Name bearing is an awesome responsibility and is also motivating. St. Joseph was a wise, kind, faithful and loving role model. All of these qualities are so needed in our country and world today.”

Sister Barbara Moore, a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet

“Throughout the years, I have known many people named Joseph: my grandpa, two of my uncles. I think it’s an honor being named Joseph. St. Joseph was a great man. He went with Mary, even though he didn’t have to at all. It was completely an option, and he chose to. I love being named after many of my ancestors and St. Joseph. I work hard to live up to that name.”

Joe Azar, seventh-grader, Mary Queen of Peace School

Sr. Selissen
“There are no words recorded in Scripture as spoken by Joseph, yet he has been a great model for us. Like Joseph we are called to humbly and quietly see what needs to be done for the dear neighbor and joyfully and peacefully do it. Joseph relied on God and responded with strength and courage, always protecting his family. Today that family is all of us in the Church.”

Sister Jean Paul Selissen, a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet 

“I could never hope to fill St. Joseph’s footsteps. But I’ve always liked the name Joseph. It’s kind of a working-man’s name. I just try to live to that. I install office furniture, so I work with my hands. I ask St. Joseph every morning to anoint my projects with his skills.”

Joe Stuckey, Shrine of St. Joseph

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