In March 2020, at the start of the COVID pandemic, Archbishop Peter A Comensoli entrusted the Archdiocese of Melbourne to the care and intercession of St Joseph: that silent but steadfast witness to God's will in times of uncertainty. Months later, Pope Francis announced a special year dedicated to St Joseph (8 December 2020 - 8 December 2021), marking the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the proclamation of St Joseph as patron of the Universal Church. As this special year comes to a close, on this Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, Archbishop Comensoli reflects on why St Joseph remains such an important figure in the life of our Church, and what relevance he has for us today's world.
Since March 2020, our Archdiocese has been seeking the intercession of St Joseph during this time of the pandemic. And that journey has been a daily journey for many people, including myself, that we have placed under the protection of St Joseph — guardian, friend, spouse, father — the care of our people here in the city and throughout the world.
As it turned out Pope Francis asked that this year, 2021, be a year to St Joseph, and so we have continued our prayer and our seeking of his intercession and to learn from his witness over all of this time. This year to St Joseph will come to a conclusion on the feast day of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. She who conceived our Saviour, imaged here in this lovely, simple nativity scene, with Mary cradling Jesus, with Joseph in his worker mode, but nonetheless present here as guardian and as friend of us. There are so many words we might place before Joseph, who said nothing — at least nothing recorded in the Scriptures — but we know him to be a steward of God's gifts, a guardian to God's family, of a husband and father within that family, a carer of those in need, and in a particularly lovely way — a dreamer, someone who listened to the dreams that the Lord planted within him and followed them.
As we come to the conclusion of this year to St Joseph, can I just offer you some words that Pope Francis himself has reflected upon St Joseph:
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. How many are praying, making sacrifices and interceding for the good of all.’
Each of us can discover St Joseph in our lives. And I encourage you even as this special year comes to a conclusion to nonetheless continue to seek the friendship of St Joseph in your life, and that he might indeed be a friend for us all.
—Archbishop Peter A Comensoli
Melbourne Catholic01 December 2021
Archbishop Peter A Comensoli05 March 2021