What a wonderful collection of reflections we have had on Saint Joseph to mark the 150th year of St Joseph being declared Patron of the Universal Church. Launched on 8 December 2020, this special year concludes on 8 December 2021.
A highlight of this year for us as the Sisters of Saint Joseph, was to receive a special greeting from Pope Francis.
Another important moment was the launch of the collection of writings from our Sisters and Companions and edited by Sister Mary Cresp titled ‘Journeying with Joseph – Josephites Essays for the Year of Saint Joseph’. Each chapter captured an aspect of Joseph’s life expanding it in a way that left the reader enriched and seeking more.
On 19 March 2021, the new Josephite website was launched, creating a new space to share the spirituality and mission of the Sisters and their mission partners.
As Sisters, we treasure Joseph’s gift to us as Sisters of Saint Joseph. His humble, obedient, tender, and courageous presence in our lives is at the heart of our story.
Over many years, we have drawn upon Mary MacKillop’s advice, “In every difficulty apply to Joseph and you will never be disappointed” (9 March 1906) as we have placed events under his care; prayed the Joseph impossible prayer; and urged his protection and care in so many difficult situations we have had to face.
Throughout this special year celebrated in the shadow of COVID-19, we have, like Joseph has been called, to step out into the unknown and move beyond the familiar just as he did as he journeyed to Bethlehem, Egypt and back to Nazareth. The call to be creatively courageous was his at each phase of the journey. Joseph was a man with nothing but the courage and determination to do the right thing.
Our world continues to be in urgent need of Joseph’s creative courage. We have seen it present as the world continued to battle the coronavirus. The ongoing courage of frontline workers and service providers around the world was so much part of our story. We saw it again in the many people who gathered and contributed their voice to the G20 Summit on Climate Change in Glasgow. We saw it again in the faces and hearts of so many refugees yearning for a better world. We saw it in the desperation of thousands fleeing Afghanistan hoping against hope for that glimmer of hope. Joseph’s capacity to walk with hope inspires us in addressing the crisis facing our world today.
We continued to hear stories of the courage of parents dealing with mental health issues impacting their children lives, of employees taking stances for the good of society, of teachers managing online learning for their students, of aid workers steadfastly working with those at the fringe of society and in the poorest parts of our world, and of journalists bringing to our attention peoples and situations where oppression occurs. Like Joseph they have let no obstacles deter them from acting with courage.
The Advent season invites us once more into the heart of Joseph where we encounter Joseph pondering the unfolding mystery of life within Mary and the Child. We come with grateful hearts for the gifts we have received in this special year and proud that we bear Joseph’s name. When we pause at the crib this Christmas, let us treasure the many ways we have been blessed by his steadfast love in this special year.
Sr Monica Cavanagh