Father Mark Bialek said the Year of St. Joseph turned into an unexpected double blessing for St. Joseph in Taneytown.
The parishioners of the Carroll County church were able to spend a year not only paying devotion to their patron saint, but also the event helped them through a difficult period of mourning.
Father Bialek, administrator at St. Joseph in Taneytown as well as pastor of St. John in Westminster, said parishioners were able to draw on the examples of their patron saint’s life after the death of pastor Father John Lesnick in February.
“It was a great honor to be able to celebrate the parish’s patron saint,’’ he said. “To have a year of devotion to St. Joseph was an opportunity for the parish to be more rooted in their patron saint during a time of great upheaval and change. We really were able to see St. Joseph’s presence and influence when people were experiencing a difficult time. It was a great comfort and blessing.”
Pope Francis announced the Year of St. Joseph Dec. 8, 2020. Archbishop William E. Lori then designated 10 churches in the Archdiocese of Baltimore named for St. Joseph as official pilgrimage sites where people could pray, meditate and receive special plenary indulgences.
Father Bialek said about two dozen visitors made pilgrimages to Taneytown.
Monsignor Richard Hilgartner of St. Joseph in Cockeysville said his parish had a similar experience.
“While we certainly weren’t bombarded with pilgrims, we did meet people making the pilgrimage fairly regularly,” he said. “The numbers were probably not what they would’ve been because of the pandemic, but we know people were making the pilgrimage.”
The church’s monthly adult learning session helped conclude the parish’s yearlong celebration of its patron with an evening of reflection on the spirit of St. Joseph.
Monsignor Hilgartner said his parish had a unique opportunity to reflect on its patron saint.
“It gave us a sense of appreciation for what Joseph taught us about being a faithful image of quiet fidelity,” he said. “All we get in the Scriptures is Joseph’s quiet ascent to saying ‘yes’ to God. The angel appears to him in a dream. Joseph awoke and did what he was instructed. That’s pretty much all we get on Joseph. He quietly does what God asks of him.”
Father Bialek also said St. Joseph provides a unique standard for Catholics to follow.
“It’s incredible when you look at the Scriptures and see that St. Joseph does not say a single word,” Father Bialek said. “He lets his actions speak for his time on earth and in heaven as protector of the Holy Family and the church. He gives us a quiet witness to our faith and shows that we don’t have to be loud or bombastic about the way we live our faith.”
Monsignor Hilgartner said his Cockeysville parish was blessed to have had Archbishop Lori visit for a celebration of St. Joseph’s feast day in May, an annual parish tradition.
“The entire thing gave us a chance as a parish to dig a little deeper into our patron saint,” he said. “We were able to pray for St. Joseph’s intercession in a special way and we had a chance to focus on him in many of our prayer groups in a deeper way.”
Melvin Alvarado Flores, a member of St. Joseph’s music ministry, even composed a special song in honor of St. Joseph, called “Oración a San José.” It was inspired by Pope Francis’ apostolic letter on the Year of St. Joseph.
Father Xavier Edet, a member of the Josephite society that pushed for the Year of St. Joseph and the pastor of St. Francis Xavier, St. Wenceslaus and St. Ann in Baltimore, said it is important for men of the church to follow St. Joseph’s example.
“Especially at this time of the year with Advent celebrations, the focus is on Jesus as it should be,” he said. “But it’s also important to pull back the curtain and see others such as Mary and Joseph. God can do anything, but if not for Mary and Joseph, it would’ve been a completely different story. It’s important to pull back that curtain and see the very human role someone like Joseph performed to follow the will of God.”
He added that St. Joseph sends a particular message to the men of his pastorate.
“St. Joseph’s example lets our men know they have to step up and play a vital role in families,’’ he said. “St. Joseph played a very visible role in the Holy Family and it’s important for our men to step up and follow that role. He was very humble and obedient and took on a great responsibility leading the Holy Family.”
The Year of St. Joseph concludes Dec. 8.
More on the Year of St. Joseph
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