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“He keeps an eye on things, and quietly works to prevent or solve problems.” – Fr. James Stenberg’s, CSB Reflection on St. Joseph – Edmonton, AB

March 20, 2024

Here in Edmonton there are many places that have St. Joseph as their patron. St. Joseph’s Basilica, St. Joseph’s Seminary, St. Joseph’s Hospital, St. Joseph High School. And, of course, St. Joseph’s College, where the Basilians have served since 1963, where I met the Basilians when I was a student in the men’s residence, and where I myself later served as Director of Residence, and where I am currently serving as chaplain. Who, though, is St. Joseph?

St. Joseph seems to have been a quiet man. In the Gospel accounts we never hear him speak. The image of him as a carpenter (tekton in Greek) might be more accurate if we think of him as being a handy-man. Like the man that our schools and churches usually have who keeps an eye on things, and makes sure that everything is working properly. He will probably be working in the background, will never cause problems (his job is to prevent or solve them, not cause them) and you might not hear him say much. But if the snow is cleared first thing in the morning, it is because he took care of it.

The Feast of St. Joseph, Husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Patron of Canada, has two options for the gospel reading. The first option, from the first chapter of Matthew, is set prior to the birth of Jesus, and shows that Joseph is an upright man who has prophetic dreams. I prefer the second option, which is about how the 12-year-old Jesus goes off on his own for three days, and is eventually discovered in the temple, “sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.” Mary tells the boy Jesus, “Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety.”

Working in a College, these words resonate with me. There is a special joy, one that all teachers know, in having young people listen to you and ask you questions. And when I was Director of Residence I became keenly aware of the desire to keep those young men safe and happy that I am confident that I share with St. Joseph.

I am convinced that St. Joseph is actively watching over this College, and over the young people that have been entrusted to our care. He keeps an eye on things, and quietly works to prevent or solve problems. I am grateful to have him as a patron. St. Joseph, pray for us!

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