Last Tuesday, 8th December (The Feast of the Immaculate Conception and the 150th Anniversary of the Declaration on St Joseph as Patron of the Universal Church), Pope Francis proclaimed a ‘Year of St Joseph.’

To mark the occasion, Pope Francis has written an Apostolic Letter entitled Patris Corde (With a Father’s Heart).

Pope Francis begins his letter by reflecting on the turbulent year that has passed and acknowledging the many ‘Josephs’ around the world that worked silently and without acclaim to help communities endure the challenges of the pandemic. He identifies the “doctors, nurses, storekeepers and supermarket workers, cleaning personnel, caregivers, transport workers, men and women working to provide essential services and public safety, volunteers, priests, men and women religious, and so very many others.” Pope Francis presents St Joseph as a model for us to know better and to imitate in the current world in which we find ourselves.

As a community that bears the name of St Joseph, perhaps this year will take on a special meaning for us as we consciously respond to the invitation to grow in the Joseph-like qualities to be “tender and loving…obedient [to God]…accepting…creatively courageous…working…self-sacrificing…”. Indeed, the coming year will need to be a time of rebuilding both as a parish and as a diocese (through the second and third sessions of the Synod). Perhaps the icon of St Joseph the builder is just the example that we need right now.

The letter concludes with a prayer to St Joseph:

Hail, Guardian of the Redeemer,
Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
To you God entrusted his only Son;
in you Mary placed her trust;
with you Christ became man.

Blessed Joseph, to us too,
show yourself a father
and guide us in the path of life.
Obtain for us grace, mercy and courage,
and defend us from every evil. Amen.