On the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary (8 Dec 2020), the Holy Father, Pope Francis, released his Apostolic Letter “Patris Corde” (With a Father’s Heart) to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the proclamation of Saint Joseph as Patron of the Universal Church in 1870. This year, the Holy Father has declared “The Year of Saint Joseph” commencing from 8 December 2020 until 8 December 2021, as a year of Plenary Indulgence.
The Holy Father has always had a special admiration for St Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church. On 1 May 2013, under his Supreme Pontiff, he included the name of St Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in the Eucharistic Prayer II, III and IV. In 1962, Pope John XXIII had already included St Joseph’s name in the Eucharistic Prayer I. Pope Francis has popularised the devotion to the Sleeping St Joseph, and he has placed a statue of the same on his desk for decades.
The Holy Father issued a decree on granting special indulgences to those suffering from COVID-19, health care workers, family members and many others “with prayer and good works, to obtain, with the help of St Joseph,” during the year of St Joseph. Since our Parish is dedicated to St Joseph, I would like to invite our Parishioners to make plenary indulgences with a spirit of detachment from sin, as well as participation in all events, activities and formations in our Parish. St Joseph has always been our Patron and a prominent figure for us. He stands as a great model of humility, kindness and simple virtues of life to exemplify the Christian faith. We should do our best to observe plenary indulgences throughout the Year of St Joseph by doing an act of charity, for example, by following the spirit of the Good Samaritan through spiritual and corporal works of mercy within our community, as well as society at large. We should encourage one another to discover and rediscover the values of St Joseph – namely, as a “beloved, tender and obedient father, a dignified, respectful and joyful worker” in our lives.
After faithfully and successfully completing our three-year Parish Vision – “Committing Ourselves to New Evangelisation” (2018-2020), I was thinking about what, the next vision and mission for the year 2021 could possibly be? The announcement of the Holy Father about the Year of St Joseph and the Plenary Indulgence, has inspired me and given me hope and direction in my Parish ministry for the year 2020/2021.
During this year of plenary indulgence, we, as the Parish community of St Joseph, should strive to be more hospitable in welcoming pilgrims, including people of other faiths to our Parish. As we walk passionately with St Joseph throughout the year, surely, we will “rediscover our filial relationship with the Father, to renew fidelity to prayer, to listen and correspond with profound discernment to God’s will.”
The plenary indulgence is also granted to us when we commit ourselves to be more devoted to “love and prayer” just as it was in the Holy Family (Jesus, Mary and Joseph). We read the Holy Scripture, recite the Holy Rosary and various devotional prayers daily to St Joseph – for protection from all dangers, in all our sufferings, illness, rejection and distress. In the midst of the on-going Covid-19 crisis, the plenary indulgence is also granted to the sick, elderly, migrants, refugees, the dying, the homeless, and health care workers, as we seek the intercession of St Joseph, offering them to Jesus Christ. To start with, I encourage all Parishioners to read and discuss the document “Patris Corde” with your family or BECs.
As Parishioners, let us commit ourselves to praying faithfully – seeking the intercession of St Joseph – that he may obtain God’s blessings upon us and our families, as we make our journey together during the Year of St Joseph.
Enclose here is another prayer to St Joseph, added by the Holy Father at the conclusion of his Apostolic Letter, encouraging us to pray together:
Guardian of the Redeemer,
Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
To you God entrusted his only Son;
in you Mary placed her trust;
with you Christ became man.
Blessed Joseph, to us too,
show yourself a father
and guide us in the path of life.
Obtain for us grace, mercy, and courage,
and defend us from every evil. Amen.
Rev. Fr. George Packiasamy