CHARLESTON—As 2021 begins full of uncertainties, including new leadership in Washington, D.C., and an ongoing pandemic, there is perhaps no saint more appropriate to turn to for inspiration than St. Joseph.
The adoptive father of Jesus and a humble carpenter, Joseph faced some of the greatest uncertainties ever confronted by a human being when he discovered that the woman he was betrothed to, Mary, was carrying a child who was to be the Son of God. Where many men would have fled in fear, Joseph instead stayed with her faithfully, protected her and his son Jesus, and carried on as worker, father and husband. His dedication and faith led him to become one of the greatest saints in the Church.
In December, Pope Francis proclaimed a Year of St. Joseph to be observed worldwide from Dec. 8, 2020, until Dec. 8, 2021, in conjunction with the 150th anniversary of St. Joseph being declared patron of the universal church. In an apostolic letter “Patris Corde” (“With a Father’s Heart”), the Holy Father described how Christ’s adoptive father, a man who often went unnoticed in life but accomplished so much, can serve as “an intercessor, a support, and a guide in times of trouble.”
“St. Joseph was called by God to serve the person and mission of Jesus directly through the exercise of his fatherhood,” the pope wrote. “In this way, he cooperated in the fullness of time in the great mystery of salvation and is truly a minister of salvation.”
In response to the Holy Father’s decision, Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone on Jan. 14 consecrated and entrusted the Diocese of Charleston to St. Joseph as the universal patron of the Church.
“As Shepherd of the Diocese of Charleston, I consecrate and entrust the Diocese of Charleston with all its members and institutions to your paternal care, development and safety,” Bishop Guglielmone wrote. “Guide us according to the Holy Spirit to achieve the purposes that God the Father establishes through the Church … Inspire our minds and hearts … Assist us to be the worshipers and witnesses that God the Father desires and deserves.”
Did you know?
St. Joseph is honored annually on his feast day, March 19. He is the patron of the sick and of a happy death, and has many other patronages including families, fathers, house sellers and buyers, craftsmen and workers.
The diocese has four parishes and one mission that bear his name, plus three schools.
Here is a look at places in the diocese named after St. Joseph:
* St. Joseph Church in Anderson, with Father Philip S. Gillespie.
Circuit-riding priests served the very small Catholic population in the Anderson area until a smattering of Irish and Polish immigrants settled in the area and the numbers started to increase. The parish was founded in 1868 and the first permanent church dedicated to St. Joseph was dedicated by Bishop Patrick Lynch in 1881. The parish continued to grow and the current church on Cornelia Drive was dedicated in 1988.
* St. Joseph Church in Charleston, with Father Patrick O. Eyinla.
Established in 1966 by Bishop Ernest L. Unterkoefler, St. Joseph parish was created from territory that was formerly part of Blessed Sacrament parish in order to provide for the growing number of Catholics in the West Ashley area. The first Mass in the current church building was celebrated in October 1969.
* St. Joseph Church in Chester, with Father Agustin L. Guzman.
St. Joseph’s church building was originally a Presbyterian house of worship until it was sold to the diocese in 1854. That year, Bishop Ignatius Reynolds dedicated and named the church for St. Joseph. It was a mission served by priests first from Charlotte and then Rock Hill until it became a full parish in 1951. There have been renovations and additions over the years, but the original church is currently the oldest church building in Chester.
* St. Joseph Church in Columbia, with Msgr. Richard D. Harris.
The need for a new parish near Columbia’s Shandon neighborhood became evident in the 1940s when a growing Catholic population overwhelmed the former St. Francis de Sales Church, which was located nearby on Maple Street. The cornerstone for a new St. Joseph Church and parish was laid in 1948, and the current church was completed in 1949. Several expansions and renovations have gone on over the years, with the most recent being the opening of the pastoral center in 2015.
* St. Joseph Mission in Darlington, with Father Daniel Papineau.
The only place Catholics in Darlington had to worship was in private homes and the American Legion Hall, until St. Joseph Mission was built and dedicated in 1959. It is a mission of St. Mary Church in Hartsville.
* Three schools are also named after St. Joe, including: St. Joseph in Anderson, K-3 to eighth grade; St. Joseph in Columbia, K-4 to sixth grade; and St. Joseph’s Catholic School in Greenville, a private school serving middle and high school students.