Saint Joseph – Our Patron

All we know about Joseph is in the Bible, which is very little. We know that he was the Foster-Father of Jesus, the Messiah. An old joke goes: “Did you know that insanity is inherited? Yes, it’s true—you get it from your children!” There is much truth in the opposite of this joke. Parents can be inspired and learn much from their children, as well as being mentor and example to them. Jesus had much to learn, in his humanity, as he grew up in Nazareth under the tutelage of Joseph. As Jesus grew in “wisdom, age and grace,” so did Joseph.

Joseph was the true husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and in one of our “Joseph windows” in the church, we see their betrothal and rings. Yet according to Catholic theology, Mary was always a Virgin, before and after the birth of Jesus, who was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit—so Jesus had no siblings (cousins were often called “brothers and sisters”). As an only (foster) Son, Jesus would have been very close to Joseph. From the little we know, Joseph was a carpenter, and taught the trade to Jesus (see the window of Joseph with an axe). Joseph expressed all the human emotions such as anger when Mary was pregnant, not by him. But he directed his life by God’s will, through prayer and “dream-visions.” Without knowing exactly how to interpret these “dreams,” we know that when Joseph discerned God’s direction, he followed it without reservation, whatever the consequences to his safety or honor.

One incident in his life was the finding of Jesus in the Temple, after Jesus had disappeared three days earlier without telling his “dad.” We can only imagine his worry, and then his relief when he learned Jesus was safe. However, there was justifiable anger for Jesus’ thoughtlessness in not letting his parents know He “had” to stay in the Temple to do His heavenly Father’s will. We can believe that the conversation was quite a lesson for Jesus in His human sensitivities.

For a number of years, St. Joseph Church was known as “St. Joseph the Worker,” especially in the 1980’s, when Fr. Tony Dodd was Pastor (who was himself an amateur carpenter, and loved the association with Joseph and Jesus). However, when the parish was founded (1946), the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker (May 1) did not even exist until 1950. That date was partly to counteract the Communist worker day celebration. Our name was never changed to St. Joseph “the Worker,” so our patronal day is March 19, Feast of St. Joseph. St. Joseph, protector and challenger of Jesus, protect us—and challenge us.

— insights by:  Fr. Bob Sanson

Further Reading

Additional Commentary

Saint Joseph is presented to us as an incomparable witness of that contemplative silence, full of listening to the Word of God, which emanates from the Gospels as the characteristic atmosphere of the House of Nazareth.

Joseph's silence was an active silence, which accompanied his daily work at the service of the Holy Family.

Following Saint Joseph's example, may all believers achieve in their own life a deep harmony between prayer and work, between meditation on the Word of God and their daily occupations.

May an intimate and vital relationship with Jesus, the Incarnate Word, and with His holy Mother, always be at the heart of everything.” — Pope John Paul II