On Sunday, April 30, churches in Brewer and Farmington will host special celebrations commemorating the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker (May 1).
St. Paul the Apostle Parish will hold a Blessing of Tools and Equipment at 2 p.m. in the parking lot of St. Joseph Church on 531 North Main Street in Brewer. Anyone who uses tools, equipment, and other implements or utensils in their work is encouraged to gather for this grace-filled benediction. From carpenters, farmers, fishers, and first responders to knitters, gardeners, and chefs, everyone is invited to bring a tool of their trade. Participants are encouraged to attend the blessing wearing their professional uniform. Father Joseph Osunde, OP, parochial vicar, assisted by other clergy, will lead the blessing. Light refreshments will be provided following the blessing. The event will take place rain or shine.
Meanwhile, St. Joseph Church, located on 133 Middle Street in Farmington, will have a St. Joseph’s Table, which will include a spaghetti dinner, in the parish hall following the 10:30 a.m. Mass. A St. Joseph’s Table is a custom that goes back to the Middle Ages when the people of Sicily, facing a devastating drought, sought St. Joseph’s intervention. When their prayers were answered, they held a feast to thank the saint for bringing their prayers to Jesus. The event became a yearly tradition, often organized by wealthy families who would invite the poor and the sick. A St. Joseph’s Table usually includes a corporal work of mercy, most especially feeding the hungry, so parishioners are asked to bring grocery items for the food pantry.
The Feast of St. Joseph the Worker is one of two feast days celebrated in honor of the saint. The other, on March 19, celebrates St. Joseph as the spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This memorial was initiated by Pope Pius XII in 1955. The pope sought St. Joseph’s intercession in the fight against communism and wanted to lift up the dignity of work, one of the core principles of Catholic teaching. The Gospel of Matthew records that St. Joseph, the husband of Mary, supported his family as a carpenter or craftsman.
“St. Joseph was a carpenter who earned an honest living to provide for his family. From him, Jesus learned the value, the dignity and the joy of what it means to eat bread that is the fruit of one’s own labor,” wrote Pope Francis in his apostolic letter Patris Corde. “Work is a means of participating in the work of salvation, an opportunity to hasten the coming of the Kingdom, to develop our talents and abilities, and to put them at the service of society and fraternal communion.”
St. Joseph is the patron of many things, including carpenters, craftsmen, engineers, and workers in general. He is also the patron of the universal Church, fathers, expectant mothers, travelers, homebuyers and sellers, immigrants, and those who are dying. St. Joseph is also the patron of three parishes and 13 churches in the Diocese of Portland, located from Aroostook County to York County.