Turn to St. Joseph, a ‘model for all men,’ Bishop Jenky urges in new Festival Letter

A statue of St. Joseph holding the Child Jesus is carried during a recent Diocesan Men's March through downtown Peoria. Pope Francis has proclaimed a yearlong celebration dedicated to the foster father of Jesus. (The Catholic Post/Tom Dermody)

The example of St. Joseph “should be an inspiration to men living in our own challenging era,” writes Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, in his 16th Festival Letter.

“The Church has always looked to St. Joseph as a model for all men — for workers, for fathers, for husbands, and for priests,” notes Bishop Jenky in an introduction to the teaching document, dated Nov. 26 and printed in the Dec. 3 issue of The Catholic Post. It is also available online here.

Calling it “a meditation on the importance of St. Joseph in the lives of our men, our families, and our parishes,” Bishop Jenky hopes this year’s letter will be read and studied especially by families, Knights of Columbus councils, men’s groups, and “all who work to form our young men.”

Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC

Titled “St. Joseph,” the letter describes the foster father of Jesus as determined, prudent, resourceful, courageous, generous, virtuous, and with a “vigorous and sustaining life of faith.”

Throughout the extraordinary circumstances of Mary’s pregnancy and Jesus’ childhood, St. Joseph “simply does whatever God asks,” writes Bishop Jenky.

“The omniscient God certainly chose the best possible man to be the foster father of Jesus,” said the bishop, noting that St. Joseph “became the provident caretaker of God’s two most precious treasures, namely Jesus and Mary.”

While much of the letter is devoted to what is historically known about St. Joseph — including a comparison to Jacob’s son named Joseph in the Old Testament and a detailed description of his role in the Holy Family — the bishop says St. Joseph is particularly relevant today as his life “reminds us of a sacred role for males.”

“In these days, any evidence of masculinity is often disparaged, and both men and boys have very few positive role models,” said Bishop Jenky. He urged them to find one in St. Joseph, “an icon of God the Father’s own steadfast love.”

Bishop Jenky tells of his own devotion to St. Joseph and notes that the Diocese of Peoria’s founding bishop, Bishop John Lancaster Spalding, entrusted all working people and the works of this diocese to the prayerful care of St. Joseph.

“Today as your bishop, I continue to find in St. Joseph enormous inspiration and great reassurance,” writes Bishop Jenky. “I encourage all of you, my fellow believers, to confidently turn to St. Joseph in all your needs.”

Since his installation as Bishop of Peoria in 2002, Bishop Jenky has issued an annual Festival Letter to teach on a specific subject. Topics of past letters have included Christian service, prayers for the dead, Catholic education, and consecrated life. Last year’s theme was “Choices.”

Each letter includes a calendar of fasts and feasts for the coming liturgical year. While most of the Festival Letters have been released in early January on the Feast of the Epiphany, in recent years Bishop Jenky has published them earlier. Last year, for example, the release coincided with the Nov. 20 close of the Holy Year of Mercy.

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