January 1, 2021 | Local News

A statue of St. Joseph is seen inside St. Joseph Parish in Bowling Green on Dec. 15, 2020.

With a father’s heart

Diocese reflects on newly-announced Year of St. Joseph


Fr. Joshua McCarty, pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Central City, has long had a special connection with St. Joseph, foster father of Jesus and husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Central City is Fr. McCarty’s third parish named after St. Joseph, the other two being St. Joseph in Bowling Green and Sts. Joseph and Paul in Owensboro. He also loves the manual trades identified with the saint, such as woodwork and building.

“St. Joseph is my man,” said Fr. McCarty.

So it made sense that he and his parish were “very excited” to hear about Pope Francis’s announcement of a Year of St. Joseph, in honor of the 150th anniversary of Pope Pius IX’s declaration of St. Joseph as Patron of the Universal Church.

Fr. Joshua McCarty loves his parish’s image of St. Joseph on one of their Emil Frey stained glass windows. COURTESY OF FR. JOSHUA MCCARTY

The pope’s announcement was made on Dec. 8, 2020, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, through his new Apostolic Letter titled “Patris corde” (“With a Father’s Heart”).

In it, Pope Francis explains that “Each of us can discover in Joseph – the man who goes unnoticed, a daily, discreet and hidden presence – an intercessor, a support and a guide in times of trouble. Saint Joseph reminds us that those who appear hidden or in the shadows can play an incomparable role in the history of salvation. A word of recognition and of gratitude is due to them all.”

Quoting his address during his Extraordinary Moment of Prayer alone in St. Peter’s Square on March 27, 2020, Pope Francis writes that his desire to declare this special year “increased during these months of pandemic, when we experienced, amid the crisis, how ‘our lives are woven together and sustained by ordinary people, people often overlooked… 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.’”

Continuing to quote his address, the pope added that these individuals understand no one is saved alone: “How many people daily exercise patience and offer hope, taking care to spread not panic, but shared responsibility. How many fathers, mothers, grandparents and teachers are showing our children, in small everyday ways, how to accept and deal with a crisis by adjusting their routines, looking ahead and encouraging the practice of prayer.’”

Fr. McCarty said he is especially excited about Pope Francis’s writing on “the quiet protection of St. Joseph, and the hard work and diligent fatherhood of St. Joseph.”

As the head of Ongoing Formation for the priests of the Diocese of Owensboro, Fr. McCarty believes that St. Joseph “has an important message for priests.”

“Which is the message of continuing the fatherhood of St. Joseph,” said Fr. McCarty. “To care for those who have been entrusted to us.”

Others associated with St. Joseph around the diocese shared their enthusiasm about Pope Francis’s announcement, and how they believe this will benefit the Universal Church.

Fr. Will Thompson, parochial vicar of Sts. Joseph and Paul Parish in Owensboro, commented that St. Joseph reveals magnanimity since the saint is known as “the silent one.”

“The one who doesn’t really speak in the Gospel; however, he is charged with providing for and protecting the Holy Family,” said Fr. Thompson.

Sr. Amelia Stenger, OSU, congregational leader of the Ursuline Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph located in Maple Mount, said she and the sisters were happy that Pope Francis had declared this special year.

“Fr. Paul Joseph Volk named our home after St. Joseph and we continue to pray for his protection,” said Sr. Stenger, in reference to the priest who helped establish Mount Saint Joseph. “St. Joseph was a protector and guide for Jesus as Jesus was growing. We ask St. Joseph to be our protector and guide as we look to the future.”

Fr. Ryan Harpole, pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Bowling Green, said this year is a “great opportunity to focus on the wonderful traits of St. Joseph.”

He quoted St. Teresa of Avila, who had this to say about St. Joseph: “Knowing by experience St. Joseph’s astonishing influence with God, I would wish to persuade everyone to honor him with particular devotion. I have always seen those who honored him in a special manner make progress in virtue, for this heavenly protector favors in a striking manner the spiritual advancement of souls who commend themselves to him.”

Fr. Harpole said this year will also provide the opportunity “to quietly focus on whatever mission God has put in our lives. To live out our life of chastity and to protect the chastity of others. To once more trust God without knowing ‘why’ and to fall in love more deeply with Christ and his mother.”

Christopher Kight, the seminarian currently assigned to St. Joseph Parish in Bowling Green, explained that seminarians are all called to “be the men that God has made us to be; each in our own way.”

“Apart from the Lord himself, I can’t think of a more noble man in our entire tradition than St. Joseph,” said Kight. “Weighed with the stain of sin, he is still totally submissive to the will of God. This is not something only the seminarian should aspire to, but all men. I think this year of St. Joseph will be a wonderful opportunity to reflect on his example.”

Mother John Mary Reed, CPM, is the mother superior of the cloistered Passionist Nuns of St. Joseph Monastery in Whitesville.

A window in the parish hall of St. Joseph Parish in Leitchfield depicts St. Joseph and the child Jesus. COURTESY OF FR. TONY BICKETT

Fr. Tony Bickett, pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Leitchfield and St. John the Evangelist Parish in Sunfish, said he was “delighted” that Pope Francis was dedicating 2021 as a year devoted to St. Joseph.

“It seems that devotion to St. Joseph is not observed as much as some other popular Catholic devotions,” said Fr. Bickett, adding that he looked forward to reading “Patris corde” in full.

He also shared the following prayer asking the intercession of St. Joseph, often invoked for a happy death, in reference to the tradition that St. Joseph died in the loving presence of Jesus and Mary. The prayer was printed in the parish bulletin on the Feast of the Holy Family during the weekend of Dec. 27, 2020.

“O St. Joseph, whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the throne of God, I place in thee all my interests and desires.

“O St. Joseph, assist me by thy powerful intercession and obtain for me all spiritual blessings through thy foster Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, so that, having engaged here below thy heavenly power, I may offer thee my thanksgiving and homage.

“O St. Joseph, I never weary contemplating thee and Jesus asleep in thine arms. I dare not approach while He reposes near thy 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.”

Pope Francis’s special St. Joseph prayer Pope Francis wrote the following in a footnote in “Patris corde”:

Every day, for over forty years, following Lauds I have recited a prayer to Saint Joseph taken from a nineteenth-century French prayer book of the Congregation of the Sisters of Jesus and Mary. It expresses devotion and trust, and even poses a certain challenge to Saint Joseph: “Glorious Patriarch Saint Joseph, whose power makes the impossible possible, come to my aid in these times of anguish and difficulty. Take under your protection the serious and troubling situations that I commend to you, that they may have a happy outcome. My beloved father, all my trust is in you. Let it not be said that I invoked you in vain, and since you can do everything with Jesus and Mary, show me that your goodness is as great as your power. Amen.

Did you know?

The Diocese of Owensboro is home to multiple places named after St. Joseph. These include:

St. Joseph Parish, Mayfield

St. Joseph Parish, Bowling Green, with St. Joseph Catholic School

St. Joseph Parish, Leitchfield

St. Joseph Parish, Central City

Sts. Joseph & Paul Parish, Owensboro

The Ursuline Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph, Maple Mount

The Passionist Nuns of St. Joseph Monastery, Whitesville

Originally printed in the January 2021 issue of The Western Kentucky Catholic.

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