Father Joe's Blog

July 3, 2018



In 1870 Joseph, already a patron saint of Mexico, Canada and Belgium, was declared patron of the Universal Church by Pope Pius IX.  In 1955, Pope Pius XII established May 1 as the "Feast of St. Joseph the Worker" to counter the Communists' May Day. 

Today, Pope Francis often speaks of his special reverence for St. Joseph.  Five years ago, the Pope chose March 19, the Solemnity of St. Joseph, to celebrate the Mass inaugurating his Petrine ministry. In his homily, Pope Francis touched on why he has always seen in St. Joseph the strength and the wisdom of God.

Joseph is a ‘protector’, because he is able to hear God’s voice and be guided by His will; and for this reason he is all the more sensitive to the persons entrusted to his safekeeping. He can look at things realistically, he is in touch with his surroundings, he can make truly wise decisions. In him, dear friends, we learn how to respond to God’s call, readily and willingly.

Here I would add one more thing: caring, protecting demands goodness, calls for a certain tenderness. In the Gospels, St. Joseph appears as a strong and courageous man, a working man, yet in his heart we see great tenderness, which is not the virtue of the weak but rather a sign of strength of spirit and a capacity for concern, for compassion, for genuine openness to others, for love. We must not be afraid of goodness, of tenderness!”

The Holy Father has granted to the Diocese of Birmingham in Alabama a Plenary Indulgence for the Year of St. Joseph, which runs from May 16, 2018 through May 1, 2019.  Like the foregoing Marian Year, shrines for gaining this indulgence are designated throughout the Diocese by Bishop Robert Baker.  The initial list of approved shrines is:

· St. Joseph Church in Huntsville

· St. Joseph Church in Florence

· St. Joseph Church in Ensley (Birmingham)

· The Cathedral of St. Paul

· The Chapel of St. John Vianney Residence for Retired Priests

· The Chapel of Our Lady of Joyful Hope Cenacolo Community in Hanceville

· The Chapel of Camp Tekakwitha in Springville

To gain the Year of St. Joseph Indulgence, the following prayers and works should be done:

Visit one of the approved shrines and spend a suitable amount of time in prayer before the statue of St. Joseph there.

Conclude by praying an Our Father and an approved Creed (for example:  the Apostles’ Creed or the Nicene Creed)

Pray also an invocation to the Holy Family (for example: “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, bless my family”).

Pray for the Holy Father’s intentions.

Be detached from all sin, including venial sin.

Receive Holy Communion in the state of grace within at least 20 days before or after.

Go to Confession within at least 20 days before or after.

Therefore, a member of the faithful who goes to daily Mass/Communion and at least monthly Confession can receive the Plenary Indulgence up to once a day.  (One Confession can cover multiple attempts to receive an indulgence.) 

In his Year of St. Joseph Pastoral Letter, Bishop Baker reminds us of the powerful influence St. Joseph has on us, and on the Church, today:

“This Year of Saint Joseph will be a grace-filled time for us to reflect upon who he is and how he helps us now – not only by his holy example, but also by his powerful prayer and protection. We reverence St. Joseph as Patron and Protector of the Universal Church. This special heavenly role flows from his life on earth, where he watched over the Holy Family with great love and diligence and defended both Jesus and Our Lady from all harm. Now, from heaven, he prays constantly for the Church: that her members grow in unity, in holiness, in catholicity, and in apostolicity.”

I would encourage you to try for the Plenary Indulgence as we travel through this Year of St. Joseph together.


Always in the Savior, Fr. Joe