Archbishop Richard Smith blesses the jubilee icon of St. Joseph the Worker in May 2013.


Archbishop Richard Smith blesses the jubilee icon of St. Joseph the Worker in May 2013.

December 15, 2014

The visit of the icon of St. Joseph the Worker to parishes and schools across the Edmonton Archdiocese brought awareness about the role of St. Joseph and increased devotion to the diocese's patron saint.

In mid-November, the icon and historical exhibit created for the Jubilee 100 Year ended an 18-month journey to more than 70 parishes across the archdiocese as well as Catholic schools, festivals and youth rallies.

The last parish it visited was St. Thomas More, where Father Andrew Bogdanowicz and Father Jaya Rajan concelebrated a special votive Mass Nov. 18.

A week later the icon returned to St. Joseph's Basilica, where it will be installed in the St. Joseph's Chapel at a later date. Iconographer Andre Prevost wrote the new icon for the archdiocese.

At St. Theresa Parish, where the icon spent two weeks in March 2013, the image was well received and parishioners prayed before it.

However, the image failed to attract the kind of attention it deserved, observed Father Jim Corrigan. "Maybe we didn't do a good job publicizing it."

On the other hand, St. Joseph isn't the kind of saint that appeals to most parish members.

"He probably ranks third here," Corrigan said, noting that Mary is first and St. Theresa is second. "It was a good experience but it didn't appeal to the demographics." St. Theresa Parish has a large number of Filipinos in its ranks.

The icon received a favourable response at Edson's Sacred Heart Parish, where people came in droves to pray in front of it.

Father Joselito Cantal said many people came back to the Church because of the icon. "For many people it was a turning point in their faith life. People who had never been in church were there."

Cantal said the icon's visit humanized the figure of St. Joseph, who decided to care for Mary and Jesus because he was wholeheartedly obedient to God.

At Sacred Heart Parish in Red Deer, the icon's visit turned into a teaching moment, said the pastor, Father Jozef Wroblewski.

Many people were wondering about the icon, which gave Wroblewski an opportunity to explain.

In the end, he said, the icon brought increased awareness that St. Joseph, the carpenter entrusted by God with the care of Mary, is the patron of the Universal Church, of Canada and of the Edmonton Archdiocese.

At Sacred Heart Parish in Wetaskiwin, people learned that St. Joseph has an important role in our history of salvation.

"He is a role model for fathers who work hard to provide for their families," said Father Nilo Macapinlac.

St. Joseph is also a model of faith because he responded well to God's call to take care of Mary and Jesus, he said.

Leah Effert, who coordinated the icon's visit to Wetaskiwin in May, said the image was set up by the altar with flowers. She said people, especially youth, came in droves to the church and took turns praying in front of the icon.

"I would say (the icon's visit) increased devotion to St. Joseph," Effert said. "Now he is part of their lives."