Marking the 150th anniversary of St. Joseph as Patron of the Universal Church, Pope Francis released the apostolic letter Patris corde (“With a Father’s Heart”) and proclaimed December 8, 2020, through December 8, 2021, the year of St. Joseph.
Calling out Joseph’s “central role in the history of salvation,” the letter recognizes Joseph’s qualities as a father and his impact as an “ordinary” person. Drawing a correlation with the pandemic, the letter also celebrates the many “hidden ones” who “are praying, making sacrifices and interceding for the good of all.” In Joseph, Pope Francis says, they find their model: “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.”
Anticipating the significant anniversary, several women in Imbaú, Paraná, Brazil, approached Sister M. Rose Martin (Tragesser), CSC, about doing something monumental. To help them honor their patron, she has been collaborating on the construction of the Oratory of St. Joseph the Worker. The site of tribute to the saint, she says, is “meant especially to affirm laborers in Brazil and to serve as a sacred space for prayer and peace for travelers.” The oratory, featuring a towering statue of Joseph holding the infant Jesus and a saw—a carpenter’s tool—will be erected near a major highway and visible from either direction. Roughly 8,000 vehicles travel the route each day, and an exit will allow motorists to pull off to visit the site, where they can rest, unload concerns and troubles, and offer thanks. For Sister Rose Martin, the project has been an expression of her devotion to St. Joseph, but also her thankfulness for her religious vocation, her 60 years in Brazil, and for the people working alongside her.