The Diocese of Providence Celebrates St. Joseph the Worker


PROVIDENCE — The virtues of St. Joseph — faith, obedience, humility, courage and trust — are the same virtues that Christians need to be faithful to the vocations God has called them to, said Bishop Thomas J. Tobin.

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“They are the virtues we need to be faithful disciples of Jesus. As we strive to be faithful disciples of Jesus and grow in holiness and virtue, it is St. Joseph who points the way for us,” Bishop Tobin said in his homily during Mass at the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul on May 1, the memorial of St. Joseph the Worker.
Bishop Tobin also noted that the annual feast day in honor of Jesus’ earthly father, traditionally described as a carpenter, was taking place in 2021 during the Year of St. Joseph, which Pope Francis proclaimed in his Dec. 8, 2020, apostolic letter, “Patris Corde” (“With a Father’s Heart”).
“It’s a beautiful little letter,” Bishop Tobin said. “If you haven’t read it yet, I encourage you to do so. It’s very readable and has many great insights about St. Joseph.”
In Patris Corde, Bishop Tobin said Pope Francis sought to increase love and devotion to St. Joseph, as well as to encourage the faithful to implore his intercession and imitate his virtues and zeal.
“It is a very worthwhile and noble cause because very often as we go through the course of a liturgical year of the church, and then our devotions and spiritual life, sometimes St. Joseph is put in a corner,” the bishop said.
As Mary’s husband and the guardian of the child Jesus, the pope wrote that St. Joseph turned “his human vocation to domestic love into a superhuman oblation of himself, his heart and all his abilities, a love placed at the service of the Messiah who was growing to maturity in his home.”
“St. Joseph reminds us that those who appear hidden or in the shadows can play an incomparable role in the history of salvation,” the pope wrote. “A word of recognition and of gratitude is due to them all.”
Though he is not quoted once in Sacred Scripture, St. Joseph has been honored since the early Church for the virtues, fortitude, judgement and mercy he showed in wanting to quietly separate from Mary before he knew her unborn child was from the Holy Spirit.
Bishop Tobin noted that St. Joseph’s patronage encompasses not only the universal Church, but also for carpenters, workers and families. In addition, he is the patron of a good death. The bishop recalled seeing stained glass depictions of St. Joseph dying in the presence of Mary and Jesus.
“What a beautiful way for all of us to pass from this world, in the company of Jesus and Mary,” said Bishop Tobin, who also mentioned that St. Joseph is the patron saint of real estate transactions. Over the years, people have buried small statues of St. Joseph in their front yards, seeking his intercession to help sell their homes.
“It’s a beautiful little devotion. Some people don’t think it’s very appropriate. I don’t think it’s so bad,” Bishop Tobin said. “I don’t think that’s a bad thing necessarily in providing hope for people, providing for them in their daily lives.”
Paul Merola, a parishioner of St. Bartholomew Church in Providence who attended the Mass, later described St. Joseph as a “neglected” saint who, besides the Blessed Virgin Mary, is the greatest saint to imitate, even though he left behind no body of writings.
“I pray to him for families and fathers, especially in this culture that’s demeaned or reduced the importance of a father,” Merola said, adding that many modern problems in the culture today can be linked to the absence of a father in the home.
“If families want to stay strong, the father needs to be on his knees as an example to his children,” Merola said. “St. Joseph is not only a great role model. He’ll provide the family with any grace they need to be faithful.”
During the May 1 liturgy, Bishop Tobin blessed a statue of St. Joseph with incense and led the congregation in reciting the Litany of St. Joseph. Over the weekend, the Vatican announced seven new invocations to the litany that refer to St. Joseph as the Guardian of the Redeemer, Servant of Christ, Minister of Salvation, Support in Difficulties, Patron of Refugees, Patron of the Afflicted, and Patron of the Poor.
Bob Short, a parishioner of St. Sebastian Church in Providence, was among a parish delegation that attended the Mass in the cathedral.
“It’s a great feast,” Short said. “I’m glad to be here.”
In his homily, Bishop Tobin said St. Joseph had the humility to put Jesus and Mary first in his life, “to step back from his own plans and ambitions.” The bishop said St. Joseph possessed an “enormous amount of courage” that enabled him to make difficult, life-changing decisions in keeping the Holy Family safe.
“Today we turn to St. Joseph with greater fervor and trust,” Bishop Tobin said. “May we increase our love and devotion for him, seek his assistance and intercession in our lives, and strive to imitate his virtues as well.
“May St. Joseph bless each one of us, our families, our dioceses and the whole church,” the bishop added. “We look forward to that day when, God willing, some day, we will be with St. Joseph, Mary and Jesus, and all the angels and saints in the kingdom of heaven.”


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