By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger
In today’s world, an outspoken nature seems to be a prerequisite for leadership. Yet St. Joseph — who is never directly quoted in Scripture — serves as a powerful example of strength, faith and obedience. “He has a silent way of working; that’s the beauty of his spirituality,” said Father Nicholas Akindele, who is leading a consecration to Jesus’ earthly father during Lent.
Father Akindele said Joseph’s strength came not from being the loudest but from his ability to listen to God and to support his wife and Jesus lovingly. He demonstrated “true masculinity,” which focuses on “building up the other,” and listening and leading with humility. “True masculinity is not violent. It is not repressive. It is not punitive. It is not aggressive. It is not afraid of losing the public space. It is not afraid of losing power,” said Father Akindele who serves as defender of the bond for the diocesan marriage tribunal and parochial vicar at St. Peter Parish-Buffalo and Holy Family and St. Alphonsus parishes-Davenport.
Since Dec. 8, the Catholic Church has been celebrating the Year of St. Joseph, proclaimed by Pope Francis to commemorate the 150th anniversary of St. Joseph as the Patron of the Universal Church. In an Apostolic Letter titled “Patris corde” (With a Father’s Heart), Pope Francis describes St. Joseph as a beloved father, a tender and loving father, an obedient father, an accepting father, a father who is creatively courageous, a working father, a father in the shadows.
The Holy Father wrote “Patris corde” against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, which, he says, has helped us see more clearly the importance of ordinary people who, though far from the limelight, exercise patience and offer hope every day. They are like St. Joseph, “the man who goes unnoticed, a daily, discreet and hidden presence,” who nonetheless played “an incomparable role in the history of salvation.”
Father Akindele said one way to recognize St. Joseph is through consecration, or “uniting with the sacred.” On Feb. 15, Father Akindele began a 33-day consecration online. “We want to hand over the virtues we have to him, so he can help us and mold us the way he did with Jesus. If we want to be like Jesus, why not go through the guy who God entrusted to raise him?”
Each day, participants will independently read excerpts from “Consecration to St. Joseph: The Wonders of Our Spiritual Father” by Father Donald Calloway, MIC. Participants will meet weekly as a group on video chat to reflect on the readings. The consecration will conclude with Mass on March 19 at St. Alphonsus Church in Davenport; participants can celebrate in-person or virtually.
Catholics in the Iowa City-Coralville area participated in a consecration to St. Joseph late last year, prior to the pope’s announcement. Using Father Calloway’s book as a reference, “we read quotes from the saints, mystics and popes about the silent witness (of St. Joseph), the chaste, just and reverent man who guarded and protected the Virgin Mary and taught and provided for Jesus in those hidden years,” said participant Meliza Wise. “We met nightly via Zoom and took turns leading assigned readings and prayers,” added Wise, a member of St. Thomas More Parish in Coralville. “We had reflection questions for deeper discussions, and petitions and prayers of thanksgiving.”
Wise said the consecration “made me reflect on and offer thanks to the many ‘apparitions’ of St. Joseph in my life: my quiet dad, the wise and humble priests, deacons and laymen I have been blessed to know, my daughter’s husband of five months and, of course, my own husband. St. Joseph is the Master of Interior life, according to St. Josemaria Escriva. This COVID year gave me the opportunity to spend more quiet and interior-seeking moments.” She said she was thrilled to hear that Pope Francis designated Dec. 8, 2020, through Dec. 8, 2021, as the Year of St. Joseph.
Father Akindele said St. Joseph serves as an example for all, not just for men, husbands and fathers — or even migrants, of whom Joseph is a patron saint. “Every one of us is expected to be obedient to God. The person who did this beautifully was Joseph. God goes to him in a dream, tells him to do something, and he does it. Sometimes we question, sometimes we rebel, and disharmony comes into our hearts, but once we merge our will with the will of God, there is peace, harmony and joy.”
Consecration to St. Joseph
Father Nicholas Akindele began a 33-day consecration to St. Joseph on Feb. 15. All are welcome to play “catch-up” or do a consecration on their own. Free copies of Father Calloway’s book are available at Holy Family Church and St. Alphonsus Church, both in Davenport. Register at https://www.vinumnonhabent.com/
Dan Teets, director of Adult Spiritual Formation at St. Mary Parish and director of R.C.I.A at the Newman Center, both in Iowa City, consecrated himself to St. Joseph in 2019 using the Father Calloway text. He will be renewing his consecration during the Year of St. Joseph using the book “Through St. Joseph” by Devin Schadt, which is geared more toward husbands and fathers. Teets encourages people who are interested in doing a consecration to St. Joseph – either through the Father Calloway text or the Schadt text, to email him at email@example.com. “I’ll connect you with others to support you in this devotion.”
For more information on the Year of St. Joseph resources, visit the diocesan website, www.davenportdiocese.org/ year-of-saint-joseph.