By Tony DeGol
In the midst of this Year of Saint Joseph, the faithful have the unique opportunity to reacquaint themselves with this patron of the universal Church, and – in the words of Pope Francis – implore his intercession and to imitate his virtues and zeal.
“We always see Saint Joseph as the foster father of Jesus, but he’s so much more,” insisted Jeanne Thompson. “And next to the Blessed Mother, he’s the person in connection with Jesus, and without Saint Joseph, we would not have had that connection with Jesus as that person – the Son of God. So devotion to Saint Joseph should be a part of our prayer life and part of our trusting that he is an intercessor for us also.”
Thompson’s enthusiasm for Saint Joseph is growing every day as she immerses herself in the observances of this year.
As the diocesan coordinator of Christian Initiation and Sacramental Preparation, she is also steering the planning process for Year of Saint Joseph celebrations here in Altoona-Johnstown.
Thompson invited Catholic schools and parish Religious Education programs to submit art, crossword puzzles, word searches, and more.
“With all those works submitted, we were able to put together five different booklets that will teach about Saint Joseph and be fun,” Thompson said.
The booklets, titled “The Year of Saint Joseph Through the Eyes of our Children,” will go to all parishes, Religious Education programs, and Catholic schools in the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown.
“We wanted to let our younger generation to know about this special year,” Thompson noted. “Inside every booklet is a little history of how this year came about, and the goal is to teach about Saint Joseph and for people to have a more prayerful relationship with this Saint.”
Throughout this year, Saint Joseph Parish in Bellwood, Saint Joseph Parish in Renovo, and Saint Joseph Parish in Williamsburg are main focuses of the diocese’s celebrations, as well as the historic Saint Joseph’s Mission Church at Hart’s Place in Carrolltown.
Thompson asked four sites to host special events for pilgrims throughout the summer.
Pilgrimage opportunities begin on May 1, the Feast of Saint Joseph the Worker, at Saint Joseph Parish in Williamsburg. Morning Prayer will be prayed at 9:00 a.m. The Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary will be prayed at 9:30 a.m.; the Sorrowful Mysteries at 11:30 a.m.; the Luminous Mysteries at 1:30 p.m.; and the Glorious Mysteries at 3:30 p.m. Confessions will be heard at 4:00 p.m., and the Vigil Mass for the Fifth Sunday of Easter will celebrated at 5:00 p.m.
On May 2, and continuing every first Sunday of each month this summer, Saint Joseph’s Mission Church at Hart’s Sleeping Place will be open for visitation and self-guided tours from Noon to three. This mission church is the oldest church in the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown and was blessed in 1830 by the Prince-Priest and Servant of God Demetrius Gallitzin.
The site will also host a special diocesan-wide celebration of the Year of Saint Joseph on August 1.
“Bishop Mark will celebrate an outdoor Mass for everyone in the diocese, with special recognition of the Sisters of Saint Joseph, who have been in our diocese since the 1830s,” explained Thompson. “The connection with the Sisters of Saint Joseph is phenomenal.”
Click HERE for more information about the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown observances for the Year of Saint Joseph, including parish schedules and prayer resources.
Editor’s Note: Jeanne Thompson will share more details about the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown plans for the Year of Saint Joseph on Proclaim! TV on May 2 at 10:30 a.m. on WATM ABC 23.
[Photos: (Top) Saint Joseph Parish in Renovo, one of the diocesan pilgrimage sites for the Year of Saint Joseph; (Second and Third Insets) “The Year of Saint Joseph Through the Eyes of Our Children” books; (Fourth and Fifth Insets) Saint Joseph’s Mission Church at Hart’s Sleeping Place in Carrolltown, another pilgrimage site.]