Year of St Joseph – Reflections

Year of Saint Joseph: ACN presents testimonies of devotion to Saint Joseph from project partners in Africa, Asia and Latin America

On the occasion of the celebration of the Year of Saint Joseph, proclaimed by Pope Francis from December 2020 until December 2021, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) has gathered a series of reflections, testimonies and miracles related to this saint by many of its project partners from around the world.

“Saint Joseph is an example for every state of life”, says Bishop Domingo Buezo Leivo of the Apostolic Vicariate of Izabal, in Guatemala.

Yet to some extent the thoughts about the person of Saint Joseph tend to reflect people’s special concerns in each particular country. “I like to focus on Saint Joseph as a responsible man who, in order to protect the life of the Child and his Mother, has to flee and suffer all the consequences, namely discomfort, weariness, danger, uncertainty. But he saves the life of the Child and his Mother”, he adds, referring of course to the ongoing human drama of the thousands of migrants from Central and South America, currently fleeing their own countries in search of a better life for themselves and their families. “Some of them are quite literally struggling to save their lives, like Joseph and Mary with the Child Jesus in their arms”, the bishop explains as he entrusts to the care of Saint Joseph all these people, who are exposing themselves “to the dangers and challenges of a migrant journey”.

Priests and religious from Guinea Bissau, Uruguay, South Africa and Brazil – to name just a few – describe how they express their devotion to Saint Joseph in their respective communities. In Manaus in Brazil, where ACN International is supporting the training of the archdiocesan seminarians, devotion to Saint Joseph is widespread throughout the city.

The seminary of Saint Joseph was founded in 1848 and the priests training there also established the parish of Saint Joseph. Many years later the seminary closed, “but devotion to Saint Joseph continued and the parish was further consolidated”, explains Father Zenildo Lima, the current rector of the archdiocesan seminary of Saint Joseph. In 1999, a group of the faithful began to pray a novena to Saint Joseph on the 19th of each month, a devotion which rapidly spread among the people and which has now become “the largest single expression of popular piety in the archdiocese”. Now the parish church has been raised to the status of a Diocesan Sanctuary of Saint Joseph, and on the saint’s feast day over 100,000 of the faithful throng the area.

“Laid at the feet of his image are so many stories of suffering, hope and prayer”, Father Zenildo assures us.

Including his own story: in December 2016 he fell ill with pneumonia and was indeed very close to death; but after five hours hovering between life and death, he came through the crisis. He was discharged from hospital on the 19th of the month.

“My 78-year-old mother, on seeing me, rushed up to me and hugged me, weeping with gratitude, and whispered to me: ‘I prayed so hard to Saint Joseph not to lose you!’.”

Many project partners tell of spiritual favours granted by the saint. For example, Father Godino Phokoso of the diocese of Dedza, in Malawi, who explained to ACN how his father had passed onto him the devotion to Saint Joseph. “He always used to call on Saint Joseph “the carpenter”. He spoke to me a great deal about him, telling me that he was a just man, a hard-working man, a loving father.” And it was Saint Joseph also, who helped him to get into the seminary, Father Godino recalls, and likewise in his training and his studies on the path to the priesthood. He describes his relationship to Saint Joseph as “that of father and son”. “He is my loving father, who never wearies of my petitions”, things like “preaching a good sermon, being a good servant of God, keeping healthy, and so forth. Many of these things I have already received and can bear witness to; the others are still on their way”, he adds.

Among the testimonies received by ACN there are also accounts from India of miracles and cures attributed to the intercession of Saint Joseph. Jesuit Father George Kerketta, of St Joseph’s parish in Dolda, Jharkhand state, , where ACN helps with repairs to the church roof, tells of crises in family and married life that were resolved thanks to the intercession of the saint. He is likewise quite certain that vocations to the priesthood and religious life have been born thanks to the intercession of the patriarch, Saint Joseph. But there are also other stories in this parish, situated in a forest region, of help in critical moments, such as the time when one of the parishioners was attacked by a tiger and recovered from his wounds after the members of his family prayed to Saint Joseph.

The celebration of the Year of Saint Joseph has been marked by the Covid-19 crisis, which has, for many people, been an opportunity to recommend themselves to his protection, as Father Ernest Adwok, the parish priest of Saint Joseph’s Cathedral in Malakal in South Sudan, reports:

“Pope Francis wants this year to be dedicated to Saint Joseph. We are facing a situation of lockdown owing to the pandemic. Is it still possible to carry out certain activities in honour of this Year of Saint Joseph? I believe that if we trust in God, all kinds of things can change. We are hoping that through the intercession of Saint Joseph the whole world may be liberated from this pandemic”, he tells us.

“Saint Joseph was a man of dreams and a man of action. Dreams and action – I have adopted this as my way of life, my vocation. I have dreams about my future life. So what am I going to do in the parish where I work?”, reflects Father Adwok.

You can read more testimonies below:

Testimonies from our ACN project partners around the world (English):

P. Mathew Thazhathukunnel MSFS; Tanzania

My devotion to St. Joseph began as a child. Devotion to St. Joseph was very common in our family and parish. We used to recite special prayers in honour of St. Joseph on Wednesdays in our family. Throughout the month of March, special prayers and litany were recited in honour of St. Joseph. It is a custom in our family on the feast day of St. Joseph (March19th), to invite a poor family for dinner and to give them clothes. As a young boy, I used to serve the Holy Mass on Wednesday and participated in the special prayers in honour of St. Joseph at our parish Church. I was so happy to be ordained a priest on a Wednesday, a day dedicated to St. Joseph.

The life of St. Joseph is always inspiring me as he was a just man. He upheld truth in his life. His life of hard work and dedication to the Holy Family makes him a model for workers as well as a model for upholding family values. Above all, he was ready to do the will of God. By honouring him, I am always inspired to do God’s will in my ministry and personal life as well as it helps me to stand by truth in the time of crisis and difficulties.


Fr. Edmond Nyoka, St. Monica Parish, Mzuzu Diocese, Malawi

St. Joseph has been an important figure in my priesthood and Christian life. He has been a figure that has always moved me to love my calling to priesthood. St. Joseph’s humble service has always inspired me to take my priestly service without too much questioning and wanting appeasement. He mostly listened and did the will of God without grumbling. He loved his family and loved God and humanity. St. Joseph has been a very important figure in the history of our salvation, carrying out God’s will and not raising himself more than God has done. This moves me a lot and inspires me to take the calling with humility, and without grumbling.

St. Joseph offered to Jesus, as a loving dad, that which he could. He was not a rich man. I have always felt that I have to offer to God what I have. God has called me, and all other servants, with our different gifts. We need to serve him with those gifts.
What would some of us do if we were in the shoes of St. Joseph? He accepted to take responsibility of the situation that was very challenging in his society. Very few young men would do that. St. Joseph has inspired me to not always go by the society’s wishes and set rules. Sometimes God calls us to go against the society’s currents. Doing good is paramount.
My prayer is that I may humbly serve the people, not expecting to be raised up in this world, not always expecting to please the society but doing good. May St. Joseph always pray for me and all other servants of God.

Fr Godino Phokoso, Dedza Diocese Malawi

I was born in a staunch Catholic family of Anitta and Pagalasio. My mother has a devotion to Mother Mary such that she joined the Legionaries of Mary and continues to be a member of the Legionaries of Mary to date. She motivated me to join the Legionaries of Mary when I was fifteen.

My father Pagalasio, on the other hand, used to love St Joseph. He used to call St Joseph The Carpenter. He often used to teach me quite a lot about St Joseph like: He was a just man. He was hard working man. He was a loving father. He found favour with God etc. I am not surprised that Pagalasio died on 19th March 2009; the Solemnity of St Joseph the Husband of Mary.

I took my mother’s devotion to Mary and my father’s devotion to St Joseph. I was successfull in primary school because of my novena to Mary. I was taught when I was to be confirmed in 1994 that if you want something from God, pray the Holy Rosary for ten consecutive days. I did this when I wrote the entrance examination to join the then Kasina Preparatory Seminary. I was successful and I was selected to start standard six at Kasina because of this novena.

It was at Kasina Preparatory Seminary that I had to balance my devotion to Mary and to St Joseph. One priest taught us about St Joseph. He said every Wednesday is a day for St Joseph and we had to sing at least one song of Joseph. He taught me to go to the left wing of the chapel at the seminary every Wednesday to pray to St Joseph. St Joseph’s Statue was put in that wing. In addition to this, he introduced me to the novena of St Joseph that is in Pieta Book on page 16. I was inspired with what is written at the bottom of the Novena: “say for nine consecutive mornings for anything you may desire. It has seldom been known to fail”.

I found this novena to be very inviting and short. I started to pray this novena nine days before examinations from standard Six up until now for other God’s Graces. I realized the power of this novena when I look back to my academic journey. The results in primary school, secondary school, Kachebere Major Seminary and St Peter’s Major Seminary are strong credits because of St Joseph.

I prayed for the precious gift of priesthood through this novena. […] St Joseph was with me. The Missionaries of Africa wrote me a good pastoral report. Things changed, my bishop said that I should be ordained a deacon in May 2010. This happened and I was supposed to be a deacon for a year. I was a deacon in May, June and was ordained a priest on 17th July 2010. I was deacon for three months only. Ooooooh thanks St Joseph.

I asked God for many things through this novena to St Joseph. Many things like good health, preaching well, comfort as a priest; a servant of God etc. Many of the things I can now confidently testify, I have received, others are on the way.

I came to know that my relationship with St Joseph is that of a father and a son. St Joseph is my loving father. He is my loving father who is never tired of my requests. No wonder my father, Pagalasio was the one who connected me with St Joseph.



Fr. Ernest Adwok, Parish Priest at St. Joseph’s Cathedral, Malakal, South Sudan

There are two things I would like to acknowledge that I have seen in the life of St. Joseph that helped me and other people. St. Joseph was a man of dreams and a man of action. We can see the work he has done, quietly, he was not talkative but he acted. He was also a man of dreams. God appeared to him through dreams. For example, he was able to listen to the word of God who told him to take the child Jesus to Egypt because the king wanted to kill him.

He was a man of action, as I said. He was a carpenter, he was working and a quiet man. Even when Mary our Mother conceived Jesus Christ he did not quarrel. He just wanted her to leave quietly.

Dreams and actions: I have taken these for my life for my vocation. I have dreams about my future life. What am I going to do in the parish where I am working? And to be a man who follows the example of St. Joseph as a person who does not tell people what to do but does the work. I am still meditating on how to follow his example. I am praying that many people can also imitate him.

Pope Francis wants this year to be dedicated to St. Joseph. We are in times of lock-down because of the pandemic. In spite of this, do you think that some activities can be done to mark the year of St. Joseph?

I believe that if we trust in God any change can happen. We trust that through the intercession of St. Joseph during this year we shall be freed from the coronavirus. The year is dedicated to St. Joseph and this is our belief. The whole year will be blessed by him. I believe my parish will be freed from these ‘bad dreams’, the ‘dreams linked to the coronavirus’, and the parish will go back to the normal activities. We hope that through the intercession of St. Joseph the whole world will be free from this pandemic.


For the full set of reflections including testimonials in English, Spanish, French and Portuguese click below: