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Knights of Columbus inspire devotion to St. Joseph with new film

Matt Birk, a former center with the Baltimore Ravens, is featured in a new documentary about St. Joseph produced by the Knights of Columbus. (Courtesy Knights of Columbus)

If St. Joseph had played football, Matt Birk is convinced he would have been an offensive lineman. Birk, himself a former center for the Baltimore Ravens, said the saint is all about protecting Mary and Jesus.

Catholic men today are called to do the same: to be courageous protectors of their families.

Birk is one of several featured voices in “St. Joseph: Our Spiritual Father,” a new one-hour documentary produced by the Knights of Columbus. The film aired for six weeks on ABC affiliates around the country and has been available for free at kofc.org since Dec. 8 – the final day of the Year of St. Joseph proclaimed by Pope Francis.

Birk, a member of the Knights of Columbus, told the Catholic Review he has completed a consecration to St. Joseph and looks to the saint as a model.

“My vocation is to be a husband and a father,” Birk said, “and there’s no better example of that than St. Joseph.”

Among the compelling stories in the film is that of Polish priests and laypersons imprisoned at the Nazi concentration camp of Dachau during World War II. As it became increasingly clear that Germany was likely to lose the war, the priests feared they would be executed. They and others in the camp made a novena to St. Joseph, asking for his protection.

“The day they began their consecration in the prison in Dachau was the same day that Heinrich Himmler signed their order of execution,” said David Naglieri, producer of “St. Joseph: Our Spiritual Father.”

The Allies liberated the camp April 29, 1945, at 5 p.m. Paperwork they discovered showed that 800 priests and laypersons were to be executed at 9 p.m.

Szymon Czyszek, a leader of the Knights of Columbus in Poland, notes in the film that the liberated people included his grandfather. In thanksgiving for their answered prayers, the freed prisoners made pilgrimages to St. Joseph of Kalisz in Poland.

Click play to listen to a Catholic Review Radio interview with Matt Birk and David Naglieri. Story continues below.

CatholicReview · Dec. 5, 2021 | Catching up with Matt Birk/New Film on St. Joseph

“The film has a lot of different stories like that – six of them actually personal witnesses – all teasing out different aspects of St. Joseph’s remarkable legacy, which is one of fidelity, obedience, virtue, courage and just bringing so many virtues to the fore that have the ability to transform lives,” Naglieri said. “We’re so hopeful that this film can touch lives because I think the best way to touch people’s heart is through stories.”

Archbishop William E. Lori, supreme chaplain for the Knights of Columbus, said in a statement that in choosing Joseph to care with a father’s love for the incarnate son of God, “the eternal Father recognized in St. Joseph a man of utmost integrity – a man who perhaps had no idea what God had in mind for him, but nonetheless went about his daily life and work with honesty and reliability.”

Along with the documentary, the Knights have included fact sheets, discussion guides and other film resources on their website. 

Matt Birk is a strong supporter of the pro-life cause. Click here to read more.

Email George Matysek at gmatysek@CatholicReview.org

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