Year in Review 2021: Catholics Stood Up for the Most Vulnerable, Embracing Virtues of the Year of St. Joseph

A lookback at the past 365 days in our nation and world and at the Vatican

Ricardo Balaca, ‘St. Joseph With the Infant Jesus’ (1861)
Ricardo Balaca, ‘St. Joseph With the Infant Jesus’ (1861) (photo: Public domain)

Editor's Note: This article went to press Dec. 22, 2021, and may not include recent notable Catholics and others who have passed away. 

As 2021 came to a close, so did the Year of St. Joseph. Many Catholics persevered like the year’s namesake in faithfulness to Christ and defending him in their service to the most vulnerable in society.

Los Angeles Archbishop José Gomez, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, led the U.S. bishops to focus evangelistic attention on drawing Catholics back to the Eucharist through a three-year Eucharistic Revival plan and a pastoral document after enduring opposition over how to best urge worthy reception of Holy Communion.

The archbishop stated the Church faces a challenge from movements that had become divisive “pseudo-religions” and did not share the Church’s commitment to social justice rooted in the Gospel.

“The Gospel remains the most powerful force for social change that the world has ever seen,” he said in his Nov. 4 address to the Congress of Catholics and Public Life in Madrid. 

Other Catholics who persevered through the morass of increasing political polarization, moral relativism, cultural Catholicism and global pandemic that was 2021 included stalwarts in the pro-life movement who, from the states’ legislative level to medical and maternal care clinics, have paved the way for the country to be reconsidering Roe v. Wade. Catholic pro-life women — professor Helen Alvaré of George Mason University School of Law, Erika Bachiochi of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, and Teresa Collett, professor at University of St. Thomas School of Law, who submitted a key amicus brief on behalf of 240 women scholars and professionals in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case — were among those who countered the narrative that women need abortion to succeed and achieve equality with men. Their argument and those of many others in support of Mississippi’s ban of abortion after 15 weeks seemed to resonate with the U.S. Supreme Court, which will decide the case in the coming year. 

The year also highlighted the quiet faithfulness of Catholic parishes to care for the image of Jesus Christ in their midst. Among them was Holy Spirit parish of Virginia, Minnesota, which found a corporate commitment to live out their discipleship by changing a homeless family’s life with the “Best Christmas Ever” and transformed even more lives with the joy of the Gospel. 

As in any era but especially in our age of technology, the Holy Spirit proved to be an irresistible media influencer, courtesy of The Bible in a Year podcast, hosted by Father Mike Schmitz and The Great Adventure Bible study program founder and longtime apologist Jeff Cavins. The podcast, which received more than 170 million downloads in 2021, was the No. 1-ranked podcast in religion and spirituality by iTunes. It will be followed by a Spanish edition in ’22.


In Memoriam 2021








Duccio’s ‘Pentecost’ (1308)

Pray the Pentecost Novena

The prayer recalls and invites Catholics to participate in the nine days that the Blessed Virgin Mary and the apostles spent in prayer after Christ ascended into heaven.