Diocese Poised to Celebrate the Year of Saint Joseph


Pilgrimage opportunities, special prayers and reflections, and an art contest are among the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown plans to celebrate the Year of Saint Joseph as declared by Pope Francis on December 8, 2020, and continuing until December 8, 2021.

With the encouragement and support of Bishop Mark and the Very Reverend Alan Thomas, VG, the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown Liturgy Committee decided to write and supply Liturgical Reflections for parishes to include in their bulletin, if they so choose.

“From this simple beginning, and in conversation with diocesan offices, parishes, and religious communities, some activities and special events have been planned and many more are currently in the planning stages,” said Jeanne Thompson, diocesan coordinator of Christian Initiation and Sacramental Preparation. “Our goal is to supply parishes, families and schools with catechetical and inspiring materials and prayers.”

In observance of the Year of Saint Joseph, faith may obtain a plenary indulgence. The usual conditions to receive a plenary indulgence:

  • Celebrate Sacramental Confession (going to Confession within 20 days before or within 20 days after the indulgence is sought). A person should be of the spirit that is sincerely and willfully detached from any sin, mortal and venial.
  • Receive Holy Communion while participating fully, actively, and consciously at Mass.
  • Pray for Pope’s needs and intentions: The Creed, Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be.

Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the Holy See made provision that persons who are currently unable to go to Mass or confession because of public health restrictions may defer reception of those two sacraments until they are able to do so. Those who are sick, suffering, or homebound may also receive the plenary indulgence as much as they are able and by offering their sorrows and sufferings to God through Saint Joseph, consoler of the sick and patron saint for receiving a good death.

Special opportunities indicated by the Apostolic Penitentiary for the Plenary Indulgence:

  • Meditate for at least 30 minutes on the Lord’s Prayer or participate in a spiritual retreat of at least one day that includes a meditation on Saint Joseph
  • Perform a corporal or spiritual work of mercy, inspired by the life and example of Saint Joseph
  • Pray the rosary together as a family, or an engaged or married couple, modeling the virtues of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph
  • Dedicate with confidence their daily work to the protection of Saint Joseph the Worker, including the efforts of those who are unemployed, underemployed, or seeking more dignified work
  • Devoutly recite the Litany of Saint Joseph or another suitable prayer in each liturgical tradition (Akathistos to St. Joseph, Byzantine), especially for the intentions of persecuted Catholics in the Church and around the world, and for all the relief of all Christians who suffer persecution in the world
  • Devoutly recite another approved prayer to Saint Joseph on various feasts of Saint Joseph: March 19 (his solemnity), May 1 (St. Joseph the Worker), or St. Joseph Sunday (according to the Byzantine tradition), or on the 19th day of each month, or each Wednesday, traditionally dedicated to honor his memory with pious devotions

Making a pilgrimage to a local designated site to satisfy the normal conditions is encouraged. The local designated pilgrimage sites in the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown will be:

  • Saint Joseph Parish, Bellwood
  • Saint Joseph Parish, Renovo
  • Saint Joseph the Worker Parish, Williamsburg
  • Saint Joseph Mission Church at Hart’s Sleeping Place, Carrolltown

Schedules for prayer at the Churches as well as additional prayer opportunities will be published by the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary, March 19, 2021.

In celebration of the Year of Saint Joseph, the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown is inviting parish Religious Education, Catholic school, and home school students and families to submit an illustration for judging. The theme is “Saint Joseph through the eyes of a child.

The winning art pieces will be used as a part of the Year of Saint Joseph advertising and the front and back covers of an activity booklet that will be printed and distributed in the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown. All artwork will be highlighted on the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown Proclaim! TV Ministry, website and Facebook page.

Students and families are also invited to submit Word Puzzles: Fill-in-the Blank, Matching, Seek and Find, and simple Crosswords, all with the theme of Saint Joseph to help build an activity booklet.

All submissions will be included in the activity booklet. The puzzles can be of symbols, titles and roles, geography, bible verses referring to Saint Joseph and the Holy Family and Catholic Church traditions. This is education for all ages made in a creative way! Everyone in the Family can help!

Art entries must be mailed directly (with a copy of the form) to:

Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown
Year of Saint Joseph Contest
Attn: Jeanne Thompson
2713 West Chestnut Avenue
Altoona, PA  16601

Puzzles can be mailed but can also be sent as a Word document attachment to an email to: jthompson@dioceseaaj.org

ALL ENTRIES MUST BE SUBMITTED NO LATER THAN MARCH 5, 2021, to be judged and to be included in the booklet.