Praising the Masculine Virtues of St. Joseph as His Jubilee Draws to a Close
How Some Men Have Spent 12 Months Growing Closer to the Faithful Foster Father of Christ
The Year of St. Joseph comes to a close on Dec. 8, and these last 12 months have prompted people to grow closer to the head of the Holy Family and patron of the universal Church. The new and increasing devotion has especially had a profound effect on men.
“The Year of St. Joseph caused me to read and study and learn more about St. Joseph. It made me realize St. Joseph is our spiritual father,” Robert Tunmire, president and executive director of Catholic Men’s Leadership Alliance and co-founder of Heroic Men, related to the Register. “He is the role model for the man, whether married or single. St. Joseph was a just man, very humble. He followed God; protected Mary; protected Jesus. Joseph portrays what we all can be and should be as men. You can look at him from any angle and go, ‘Wow, that’s the model!’”
Tunmire has added St. Joseph to his list of favorite saints he asks for daily intercession. On a broader level, because of his involvement with men’s groups, he has seen a huge awakening in devotion to Jesus’ earthly father around North America. “For men in particular, the Year of St. Joseph has had a huge impact. We hear it, and we see it, and I believe it will carry on.”
For Jeff Reither, director of parish and family life at the Church of St. Anne in Hamel, Minnesota, his journey with St. Joseph started before this year, with Marian Father Donald Calloway’s book Consecration to St. Joseph. “By complete chance — well, God knows what he is doing — my 33-day consecration to St. Joseph took place the very night I spent the night in the Holy Sepulchre this year. I was able to consecrate my life to Jesus through St. Joseph while alone in the tomb of Christ.”
His devotion continues to grow.
“For me, St. Joseph is about being present,” Reither said. “He was present to Christ. He was present to his wife. He was present to the voice of God. By being present, he could virtuously act. He did not get distracted by outside forces — he just responded to God’s call by action. He was obedient.”
Reither’s devotion extended to his whole family. Being a husband and father of nine children — seven girls and two boys — he has found “studying St. Joseph allowed me to be more present to those I am present with so I can feel his presence in them.” Another spiritual benefit he reported: “St. Joseph has helped me to listen to God’s voice by gazing on his Son in adoration, who is the exact same Person St. Joseph adored in the stable. What a blessing.”
Jason Godin at Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church in Edina, Minnesota, said that his devotion to St. Joseph deepened while reading and prayerfully reflecting through Father Calloway’s Consecration to St. Joseph. Now, at the end of his daily Rosary, he includes, “St. Joseph, pray for us” and adds a title like “Protector of Families.” This growing devotion also affected his role and active presence as a husband, and father of two, plus “increased my appreciation for silence,” Godin explained. From Joseph he learned the “greater role silence can have in the life of faith, a practical faith in a world that has so much noise. He really is the role model, the antidote to the downsides of that noise by finding time for silence.”
This year Father Jeffrey Kirby, pastor of Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church in Lancaster, South Carolina, and author of Manual for Suffering and Real Religion: How to Avoid False Faith and Worship in Spirit and Truth, said he “focused on preparing and making the consecration to the great saint.” He explained to the Register, “The preparation helped me to see St. Joseph in many different lights, to go deeper in my relationship with him, and to grow in my appreciation of his faith, docility and fatherly care for me and the Church.”
Father Kirby invited his entire parish to join him — “and over 350 people made the consecration with me!” he exclaimed. “Everyone developed a more profound love for St. Joseph. It was a great blessing for the entire parish.” The parish rectory was dedicated to St. Joseph and will soon have a statue out front, set to arrive and be blessed on Dec. 8, “a spiritual fruit of this special year.”
Brother John Paul Fruge with the Companions of the Cross who is studying for the priesthood in Louisiana was drawn to St. Joseph, too. As a youngster he learned about St. Joseph from his father, who handed out stacks of St. Joseph prayer cards. “My father was zealous in spreading them,” he said. The time-honored prayer seeks St. Joseph’s protection: “Oh, St. Joseph, whose protection is so great, so prompt, so strong, before the throne of God, I place in you all my interests and desires. Oh, St. Joseph, do assist me by your powerful intercession, and obtain for me from your Divine Son all spiritual blessings, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. So that, having engaged here below your heavenly power, I may offer my thanksgiving and homage to the most loving of fathers. Oh, St. Joseph, I never weary contemplating you and Jesus asleep in your arms; I dare not approach while he reposes near your heart. Press him in my name and kiss his fine head for me and ask him to return the kiss when I draw my dying breath. St. Joseph, patron of departing souls, pray for me. Amen.”
Brother John Paul has been impressed by Joseph’s protective nature. “His purity protects others’ dignity and allows others to flourish and bring out their gifts,” he said. “He embraces fatherhood with an adopted son. He takes responsibility for the Child. I see him as a huge model of fatherhood.”
St. Joseph, Brother John Paul added, is “inspiring me, because, as a priest, I will not be a biological father but a spiritual father, entrusted with other souls and really taking responsibility for them and making greater sacrifices on their behalf. St. Joseph is a model of that himself.” He sees St. Joseph as “a great model of a man of great trust in God.” During the Flight to Egypt, for example, “He showed great trust in a very difficult time, and we see him do that very faithfully and with great trust in God.” This year Brother John Paul and his peers followed St. Joseph’s example when they had to “leave the seminary during the hurricane” — Ida — and deal with “how much life was altered by COVID. There was a temptation to be bitter.” But they turned to the Patron of the Afflicted. “St. Joseph was in dire and difficult situations, but he placed his trust in God. … He is a model who experienced difficulty and disaster, but placed it in God’s hands and did the best with the situation.”
Ronald Nolin at St. Francis Xavier parish in Acushnet, Massachusetts, had not been to the sacrament of penance for several years.
This year, he explained, “Somehow St. Joseph came to my mind — to go to confession.” So he did.
Nolin is positive the prompt came from St. Joseph. “I think it was really he who said, ‘It’s time to go back to confession.’ I wasn’t thinking about it or praying to him to make me go back to confession. It seems like he said to me, ‘It’s time I put you back on the right track.’” Since then, Nolin continues to seek sacramental reconciliation.
The head of the largest Catholic fraternal organization in the world also experienced the influence of St. Joseph during this year dedicated to him. Supreme Knight Patrick Kelly of the Knights of Columbus told the Register, “Pope Francis gave the Church a great gift in declaring the Year of St. Joseph. For the Knights of Columbus, that gift has been especially meaningful since St. Joseph is a perfect model for Knights. He was a man of courage and faith, who listened carefully to the Lord and never backed away from difficulty.”
“Today, we might say he was a man of deep character, a man who always strived to do the right thing. That is why, on the day I was installed as supreme knight, I dedicated my leadership of the Knights of Columbus to St. Joseph. I truly believe it was providential that I was elected and installed as supreme knight during the Year of St. Joseph. I turn to him every day, because his life embodied prayer, obedience and courage.”
Kelly said, “My devotion to St. Joseph has only intensified in this last year. In a footnote to Patris Corde, Pope Francis shared a prayer to St. Joseph which the Holy Father has prayed daily for 40 years. I was deeply moved by this beautiful prayer and now pray it every morning. It asks for St. Joseph’s help with the serious and troubling situations that we commend to him. I have that prayer on my desk in the office, and I sometimes pray it at other times in the day because I find it to be such a powerful prayer.”
He also credits another devotion his wife introduced to him — a devotion regaining popularity thanks to Pope Francis. “Vanessa got us a statue of St. Joseph sleeping, and our whole family writes down our prayer intentions on little slips of paper, and we put them under the statue. So St. Joseph is ‘sleeping’ on these petitions we entrust to his intercession. And it’s amazingly efficacious. Weeks later, we pull the prayer petitions out and can go through each one, realizing, ‘Yes, that was answered’ or ‘Yes, that was resolved’ and so forth. It really is an extraordinary devotion.”