Parishes will celebrate Year of St. Joseph in many ways

The Solemnity of St. Joseph is on March 19


With the Apostolic Letter, Patris corde (“With a Father’s Heart”), Pope Francis recalls the 150th anniversary of the declaration of St. Joseph as Patron of the Universal Church.

To mark the occasion, the Holy Father has proclaimed a “Year of St. Joseph” from December 8, 2020, to December 8, 2021.

The pope wrote Patris corde, according to an article from Vatican News, against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, which, he says, has helped us see more clearly the importance of “ordinary” people who, though far from the limelight, exercise patience and offer hope every day.

Msgr. John T. Myler, rector at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Belleville, said that Pope Francis in Patris corde called for this year of St. Joseph because, “Each of us can discover in Joseph – the man who goes unnoticed, a daily, discreet and hidden presence – an intercessor, a support and a guide in times of trouble.

“St. Joseph reminds us that those who appear hidden or in the shadows can play an incomparable role in the history of salvation.”

Msgr. Myler says Pope Francis went on to call St. Joseph, “tender … loving … obedient and accepting … and courageous.”

Images of St. Joseph
Msgr. Myler has created a 30-minute presentation on images of St. Joseph that will be available for viewing beginning March 19, in honor of the Solemnity of St. Joseph.

“Some of the images are ancient; some are modern. They show how Joseph was depicted almost from the beginning,” Msgr. Myler says.

“It’s interesting how Joseph’s appearance is depicted at different times and places. He usually is shown as a young man leading Mary on a donkey or sometimes he looks like he is 80 years old.

“St. Joseph is the patron of the universal church. I enjoyed seeing how artists show him with features and clothing from their cultures.”

Msgr. Myler also commented on current interpretations of St. Joseph in which the Holy Family is often painted as refugees or immigrants because of their flight in Egypt.

“Modern art shows them at a bus stop or walking along barbed wire. I find it very meaningful,” Msgr. Myler says.

This presentation will be posted on the Diocese of Belleville’s website at or the Cathedral of St. Peter website at

Ways to honor St. Joseph
Throughout the world, there are shrines, cathedrals and churches on every continent dedicated to St. Joseph, including in the Diocese of Belleville: Benton, Cobden, Elizabethtown, Freeburg, Lebanon, Marion, Olney, Prairie du Rocher, Stringtown and Willisville are named in honor of St. Joseph. There are numerous religious orders of men and women named after St. Joseph, such as the Josephites and the Sisters of St. Joseph, who at one time ministered in the Diocese of Belleville.

All around the globe, dozens of cities and towns are named after St. Joseph – from St. Joseph, Mo., in the Midwest to San Jose in California.

There was even an aspirin named for St. Joseph. Do you remember from your childhood: “St. Joseph Aspirin for Children”?

St. Joseph Altar
March 19 is the Solemnity of St. Joseph. Many parishes around the world offer a St. Joseph table or altar, an old European custom. Elaborate altars are constructed to honor the relief St. Joseph provided during a famine in Sicily. The altars have a statue or painting of St. Joseph and are filled with an abundance of food, to share as a feast following service or give to the poor.

After many centuries, the St. Joseph altar still serves as a reminder that those who have enjoyed some measure of good fortune must share it with those who have less.

In Europe, each March 19, around the time of the vernal equinox, an ancient tradition of building bonfires is celebrated to mark the closing days of winter, the welcoming of spring and the hope for a good year’s harvest.

Originally before the Middle Ages, this was a Pagan ritual to scare away bad spirits; however, it was later adapted into a Christian festival to correspond with the Feast of St. Joseph, or San Giuseppe, the patron saint of carpenters and woodworkers.

The Solemnity of St. Joseph
Following are some of the activities happening in the Diocese of Belleville for the Solemnity of St. Joseph and the Year of St. Joseph:

Cathedral of St. Peter, Belleville
March 19 at 10 a.m. – prayer service and St. Joseph altar. Bring decorated boxes of food for the poor. The food will be blessed and prayers will be said for the unemployed.

March 19 at 7 p.m. – Bonfire on Cathedral parking lot, sponsored by the Pastoral Council. Bring branches from your trees to add to the fire.

St. Joseph, Prairie du Rocher
March 19 – St. Joseph table with drive-through meal after Mass.

St. Joseph, Freeburg
• March 19 at 6:30 p.m. Mass – Celebrating St. Joseph’s feast day
• Offering one Votive Mass of St. Joseph per week, when allowed, during Ordinary Time
• Recite a prayer to St. Joseph during Eucharistic Adoration, when Adoration begins again
• Parishioners will have an opportunity to consecrate themselves to St. Joseph on All Saints Day, after 33 days of spiritual preparation
• Promoting the viewing of the new Formed Catholic Online video series about St. Joseph that begins March 5.

St. Augustine, Belleville
March 13-21 – The St. Joseph’s table to collect food items for the parish food pantry. The items are blessed at the end of the collection period and transferred to the food pantry by volunteers.

Our Lady of Lourdes, Sparta
Will recite the Year of St. Joseph Prayer at the end of Mass this year.

For you and your family
You might especially honor St. Joseph in March and on Wednesdays (both are dedicated to St. Joseph) by praying the Litany of St. Joseph, reading about him in Scripture or engaging in the many prayers or spiritual works that will allow you to receive a plenary indulgence this year at

Consider reading Patris corde with family or friends and reflecting on the fatherhood of St. Joseph:
View Msgr. Myler’s presentation on images of St. Joseph to be posted on the Diocese of Belleville’s website at

Also consider celebrating the Solemnity of St. Joseph on March 19, for which there are many traditions.