Cardinal Dolan will consecrate the Archdiocese of New York to St. Joseph on the saint’s feast day, Friday, March 19, following the 7 a.m. Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
Pope Francis promulgated the Year of St. Joseph, which began Dec. 8 and coincides with the 150th anniversary of St. Joseph’s designation as patron of the universal Church by Blessed Pope Pius IX.
Auxiliary Bishop Gerardo Colacicco, who is coordinating the archdiocese’s observance of the Year of St. Joseph, reflected on the observance in a phone interview with CNY March 8.
“St. Joseph’s powerful intercession in our lives always draws us closer to the heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. So as he protected them and provided for their needs, so he does the same for us, and we entrust ourselves to his fatherly care.”
Priests at parish churches throughout the archdiocese will replicate the consecration in union with the cardinal, simultaneously in many cases and according to the parish Mass schedule in others.
The prayers for consecration have also been sent to Catholic schools and parish religious education programs for student participation. The prayers are also available on the archdiocesan website, archny.org.
In the act of consecrating oneself to Our Lady or to St. Joseph, Bishop Colacicco explained, “we are saying to ourselves as well as to them, I’m linking myself in a very spiritual way, in a very profound way, to their hearts. I’m giving myself to them, so that I can grow in the virtues that they teach us by their very life. And in consecrating myself in living those virtues out, please God, will grow in holiness.”
St. Joseph “is ageless,” Bishop Colacicco continued. “He took care of Our Lady when she was a young lady, and he took care of Jesus when he was an infant, into his boyhood and into his manhood. In those quiet years, in those silent years, Joseph was very much at work, guiding and teaching and watching over Jesus as He matured in wisdom and strength. So he does that for us as well. And no matter what our age, he speaks to our experience because we all need that fatherly image in our life and the virtues that he shows forth, we need them at every age.”
The virtues specific to the saint, the bishop said, are found in the Litany to St. Joseph. Among them, he was just, chaste, prudent, courageous, obedient and faithful. “He teaches us patience,” Bishop Colacicco said. “He lived a simple life and he worked hard. He was a good and holy parent and provider. He provided a home for Mary and Jesus, so we call him the pillar of families. We also go to him for those who are dying...”
St. Joseph’s parish and school in Bronxville joyfully await the feast day.
Mary Ellen DeMarzo-Sánchez, the school principal, said she wants the students to know that St. Joseph was a model saint. “He was a role model for Jesus and should be for us.”
On the feast day, the school, following coronavirus protocols, will hold its St. Joseph Festival, which includes a pilgrimage from the school, around the perimeter of the campus, to the church. Students whose name include Joseph—Joseph and Josephine, for example—will lead the way as statue-bearers, carrying a statue of St. Joseph in procession.
Fresh flowers—white lilies—will be brought to the altar and silk flowers will be placed at the St. Joseph statue outside the church. The Prayer to St. Joseph will be recited.
Celebrations in the classrooms will include a brief movie about St. Joseph and St. Joseph-themed games, such as religion bees and spelling bees. A school-wide virtual Rosary will be prayed. A table in the school will feature traditional St. Joseph foods.
“Children learn the most when they’re happiest, when they’re engaged,” Mrs. Sánchez said. “You can inform them of tremendous things in a happy and fun way and that will be memorable to them.”
Father Peter McGeory, who has served as pastor of St. Joseph in Bronxville since 2013, has a special connection to St. Joseph in that he was raised in the parish and is a 1963 alumnus of the parish school. He also attended St. Joseph’s Seminary in Dunwoodie. “It was St. Joseph, St. Joseph, St. Joseph,” he said with a laugh.
The pastor is delighted at the number of confirmands taking the name Joseph as patron of the parish. “St. Joseph seems to be very popular this year.”
“St. Joseph,” he explained, “is the silent saint. He is the doer, not the talker. Sometimes, we need to imitate him in our prayer to the Lord in being probably a little more silent than talkative. He was a great listener and a great role model. We need to do God’s will like he did.”
“It’s a special time for us,” Father McGeory said, “a time of re-dedication for us in our parish, especially to really focus in on those qualities and characteristics that St. Joseph exemplified without saying a word.”
The Year of St. Joseph is also apropos amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to the pastor. “What do we need, role models, in the year of Covid.”